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His Excellency Chevalier Bunsen^ ambassador from the king of Prussia. 
Bight Hon. the Earl of Ellesmere. 
Bight Bev. the Lord Bishop of St David's. 
Bight Bev. the Lord Bishop of Oxford. 
Bight Hon. Lord Viscount Mahok^ Grosvenor Place. 
Bight Hon. Lord Londesborottgh. 
Lieut.-Colonel B. Anstruther, 4 Chepstow Villas, Bayswater. 
Bev. C. D. Brereton, Little Massingham, Norfolk. 
Bev. J. L. Brereton, Alfred Club, London. 
John Britton esq., F. S. A. &c., 17 Burton Street, Burton Crescent. 
Bolton CoRNEY esq. M. B. S. Lower Barnes, Surrey. 
W. J. Evelyn esq., M. P., Wotton, Surrey. 
C Eyston esq, Hendred House, near Wantage, Berkshire. 
Bev. Dr Giles, Bampton, Oxford (Honorary Secretary.) 
Bev. T. Gillett, Bury St Edmund's. 
D. Hoffman esq. 
Bev. J. 8. HowsoN, Principal of the Collegiate Listitution, Liverpool. 
J. Hughes esq., Donnington Priory, near Newbury, Berkshire. 
H. W. Pickersgill esq. B. A. 18 Soho Square. 
DrPLUMPTRE,Master of University Coll. Oxf. andVice-chan. of the University. 
P. PusEY esq., M. P., Pusey house, Berkshire. 
Sir Walter C. Trevelyan, Bart. NetUecomb Court, Somersetshire. 
M. F. TupPER esq., Albury, Guildford. 
Bev. Dr Whewell, master of Trinity Coll. Cambridge. 

Ckttm Mb Cmrtrtliitors. 

J. Y. Akerman esq., author of Coins oj the Romans, &c. 

Dr Bell^ Foreign Secretary to the Archceological Association. 

Rev. Dr Bosworth, author of the Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 

J. Britton esq. F. S. A., author of Cathedral Antiquities, &c. 

J. S. Cardale esq., editor of Boethius, 

Rev. J. Earle, Professor of Anglo-Saxon, Oriel College Oxford. 

T. Forester esq. author of Norway in 1849, &c. 

Rev. S. Fox, editor of the Anglo-Sax. Poetical Calendar. 

Rev. Dr Giles, author of Lije and Times oj Alfred the Great, &c. 

Rev. D. Haigh, author of the Coins oj East Anglia, &c. 

Dr Pauli, of the University of Berlin. 

B. Thorpe esq., editor of Ancient laws, 8fc. oj England. 

M. F. Tupper esq., F. R. S. author of Proverbial Philosophy. 

T. Wright esq., author of Anglo-Saxon Biography, &c. 


VOL. I. 

Preface ' . . . . ix 

L Harmony of the Chroniclers daring the life of King Alfred ; a. d. 849 — 901 : 
by the Rev. Dr Giles xvii 

IL Sketch of the Anglo-Saxon Mint ; by J. Y. Akerman esq. • . 129 

III. Description of all the coins of King Alfred now remaining ; with seven 
plates, containing fac-similes of all those coins : by the Kev. D. Haigh. 137 

lY. A Metrical English Version of King Alfred's Poems; to illustrate Anglo- 
Saxon Poetry in general : by Martin Parqohar Tapper esq. D. C. L. . 167 

v. History and Political State of Europe in the ninth centuary. The Age of 
King Alfred the Great : by T. Forester esq 255 

YL Description of King Alfred's Jewel, with some observations on the art of 
working in gold and silver among the Anglo-Saxons : by the Sev. Dr Giles. 327 

VII. The Danes. 1. Their origin. 2. Their warlike deeds and character— 
4. Their religion — 4. Their polity. — 6. Their love and mode of war. — 6. Their 
manners customs and occupations — 7. Their arts and language : by G. Hook 
esq 887 

VIII. King Alfred's Charters^ translated from the Latin and Anglo-Saxon 
originals in Kemble's Codex Anglo-Saxonicus : by Dr Giles . .879 

IX. King Alfred's Will : by Dr GUes ...... 899 

X. Tabular View of the Decline and Pall of the Heptarchy in the life - time 
of King Alfred : by Dr Giles 411 

XL Domestic Manners and Habits of the Anglo-Saxons : by G. Soane esq. 418 

XII. Traces of the Danes in England : by T. Forester esq. . 493 

XIIL Grimbald's Crypt (with a plate) : by Dr Giles. ... 642 

Volume I. 


Vol. II. 

XIV. An English Translation of King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon Version of the 
Historian Orosius ; with two fac-similes of MSS. : by the Rev Dr Bosworth 9 

XV. King Alfred's Version of Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History of 
the English Nation ; literally translated from the original Anglo-Saxon : by 
E. Thomson esq : . . 199 

XVI. King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon Version of Boethius, translated into English : 
by the Rev. S. Fox : with a fac-simile of one of the MSS. . . .417 

Vol. Ill {forming the second part of Vol. II), 

XVII. King Alfred's Hand-Book : by Dr Pauli .... 5 

XVIII. An Essay on the Geography of King Alfred the Great, taken from 
his Anglo-Saxon Version of Orosius ; containing Alfred's Description of Europe 
in the Ninth Century, and his account of the Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan 
into the White and Baltic seas : by R. T. Hampson esq. ... 9 

XIX. Anglo-Saxon Version of Gregory's Pastoral Care : by the late 
! Eev. H. W. Norman 64 

XX. A modern English Version of King Alfred's Blossom-Gatherings from 
Saint Augustine : by E. Thomsonr esq 8S 

XXI. The Laws of King Alfred the Great : by the Rev. Dr Giles . 119 

XXII. King Alfred's Preface to the Anglo-Saxon Version of Gregory's 
Dialogues : by the Rev. S. Fox ....:.. 140 

J. A. GiLKS, general editor^ 

Perivale Rectory, Harrow, NW : May 1, 1858. 



Two years have now passed since a public meeting was held in 
the town of Wantage, on the 25th of October 1849, to celebrate 
the Jubilee or thousandth year since the birth of king Alfred the 

At that festival, twenty thousand of our fellow-countrymen were 
met together, and the whole town presented an appearance of 
mirth and holiday. A select number of one hundred persons 
dined together at the Alfred's Head, and their chairman was 
Charles Eyston esq. of Hendred House, near Wantage, a true 
English gentleman and both in heart and name a thorough Anglo- 
Saxon. At that meeting, attended by guests from every part of 
England, and from America— -that hopeful mother of future 
Anglo-Saxons, as well as from Germany, that ancient cradle of our 
common race, — surrounded with banners of every hue, with 
trophies, legends and memorials, it was declared to the world that 
the name of Alfred, who on that spot first saw the light, should 
not be forgotten. At that meeting it was resolved : 

That a JUBILEE EDITION oj the Works of King Alfred 

THE Great, mth copious literary, historical, and pictorial illtistra- 

tions, should be immediately undertaken, to be edited by the most 
E««y- b 


competent Anglo-Saxon scholars who might be willing to combine 
Jor such a purpose. 

This noble design immediately revived the hopes which all 
English, and indeed all Anglo-Saxon, scholars had so long enter- 
tained, — that they might at last see the valuable writings of the 
great king, whom Old England called her Hero and her Darling, 
united into one collection, worthy of their author, and of the people 
who owe to him their arts, arms, and civilization. 

It is well known that some of the learned societies, which are 
engaged in investigating the early history and antiquities of this 
country, and in publishing the most valuable documents and re- 
cords of every description, had repeatedly taken into consideration 
such a plan ; that a few of the first and most profound scholars in 
Saxon history and literature had intended to do the same ; and 
that transcripts of several of Alfred's works had been made by 
various persons, and were actually almost ready for the press. 
Owing, however, to various circumstances, which it is unnecessary 
here to detail, neither societies nor private individuals had been 
able to carry this design into execution. What, however, public 
societies and private persons have failed to do, is now on the verge 
of accomplishment, after the revolution of one of those eras which 
often inspire mankind to feelings that otherwise would have 

The Jubilee Edition might have been offered to the public 
without any preliminary observations whatever; for the works 
themselves would have told their own story, and sufficiently have 
indicated the mind of their great author. But, as many of our 
readers were before, possibly, ignorant even of the fact that King 
Alfred has left behind him numerous writings in the Saxon or Old 
English language, it may not be lost time to notice them in this 
preface with such remarks as may serve to point out the circum- 
stances which give to them their value and render them so inte- 
resting to all Englishmen. 

The first peculiarity of King Alfred's writings is the remarkable 
fact that they are all written in the old English language. This 
circumstance alone places them above both praise and blame. In 
the ninth century, when all the rest of Europe was dark as night, 
and the light of the mind seemed on the point of being extinguish- 
ed among men for ever, there was found, in England, a man 


whose soul shone through that thick darkness^ and that individual 
was a king, engaged in a long course of more cruel warfare than 
the most warlike kings and generals of all former times had ever 
before accomplished, — and that man had grown to be a boy of 
twelve years old before he had ever learned to read at all ! To 
praise such a wonderful man is to gild the rainbow or to paint the 
Hly ! — ^to criticise his writings for any other purpose than to admire, 
would be unjust towards their author, who had no model to copy, 
no rules to follow, and who was forced, in the intellectual sterility of 
his age, not to imitate what had gone before, but to carve out 
models for those who should come after him. Viewed in this 
light, the works of King Alfred give us a magnificent idea of his 
superiority over the rest of the world : for he was the inventor, if 
we may use the expression, of a vernacular literature. His writings 
are not stored \xp in the obscurities of monkish Latin, of which it 
is hard to say whether the trouble of reading it or of writing it is 
the greater : but they were written in plain English, which the 
plough-boy, as he whistled his way to the furrow in the neighbour- 
hood of Wantage, might have read with ease, and with profit. And 
what adds to the merit of these works is the ascertained fact, that 
the king of England was working alone at that time in pioneering 
and opening the road to a national literature. All besides himself 
were grinding in the heavy mill of the Fathers and the Schoolmen, 
putting forth to the world masses of literary rubbish, which, with- 
out doing one atom of good to mankind, swelled the libraries of 
the monasteries, entailing a load of mental tribulation on posterity 
for centuries to come. 

What, then, is the nature of the writings which employed the 
pen of a great prince, who was to found the largest and most 
powerful empire that the world has yet beheld ? The reader will 
see in these volumes what were the writings of the king. They 
extend to almost every kind of learning then known, or rather, it 
may be said they reach even beyond the utmost excellence of all 
contemporary learning. They comprise Poetry, History, Geogra- 
phy, Moral Philosophy, and Legislation ; and* they form, in fact, 
the most valuable portion of Anglo-Saxon Literature. It is no 
disparagement to these writings, that they are mostly paraphrases 
of ancient Latin authors. This peculiarity was the necessary result 
of the ignorance in which the whole English nation were then 
sank. We may see, in the words of Alfred himself^ found in 


his own works, the lamentable state of degradation to which the 
national learning was reduced. 

Keason ! thou knowest that covetousness and the possession of this earthly 
power I did not well like, nor strongly desired at all this earthly kingdom, but, 
oh ! I desired materials for the work that I was commanded to do. This was 
that I might unfractiously and becomingly steer and rule the power committed 
to me — What ! thou knowest that no man may show any craft or rule, nor steer 
any power without tools and materials. There are matenab for every craft, with- 
out which a man cannot work in that craft 

These are the materials of a king's work, and his tools to govern with ; that 
HE HAVE HIS LAND FULLY PEOPLED ; that he should havc his prayermen, and 
armymen, and workmen. What I thou knowest that without these tools no king 
may show his skill. 

These are also his materials, that with these tools he should have provision 
for these three classes, and their provision then is, land to inhabit, and 
gifts, and weapons, and meat, and ale, clothes, and what else that these three 
classes need ; nor can he without these keep his tools ; nor without these tools 
can he work any of those things that it is commanded to him to do. 

I wish you to know that it often occurs to my mind to consider, 'what manner 
of wise men there were formerly in the English nation, both Spiritual and Tem- 
poral, and how happy the times then were among the English, and how the kings, 
who then had the government of the people, obeyed God and his written will, how 
well they behaved both in war and peace, and in their domestic government, and 
how they prospered in knowledge and in wisdom. I considered also how earnest 
God's ministers then were, as well about preaching as about learning, and about 
all the service which they did to God, and men came from foreign countries to 
seek wisdom and doctrine in this land, and how we who live in these times are 
now obliged to go abroad to get them. To so low a depth has learning fallen 
among the English nation, that there have been very few on this side of the 
Humber, who were able to understand the English of their service, or to turn an 
epistle out of Latin into English ; and I know there were not many beyond 
the Humber who could do it. There were so few, that I cannot think op 


It is now our pleasing task to notice the means to which Alfred 
had recourse in order to remedy the evil. And here, also, he shall 
tell in his own words, the designs which his master mind con- 
ceived and executed : — 

I called to mind [says he], that the law was first written in the Hebrew 
tongue, and that, when the Greeks learned it, they translated it into their own 
language, besides many other books. And after them the Latins, when they 
learned it, translated it, by means of wise interpreters, into their own language, 
as all other Christian people, too, have turned some part of it also into their own 
tongue. For which reason I think it best, if you too think so, that we also 


should torn into the language which we all of as know^ some sach books as are 
deemed most useful for all men to understand, and that we do our best to effect, 
as we easily may, with God's help, if we have quietness, that all the youth of 
free-bom Englishmen, such as have wealth enough to maintain them, be brought 
up to learn, that, at an age when they can do nothing else, they may learn to 
read the EngUsh language then, and that afterwards the Latin tongue shall 
be taught to those whom they have it in their power to teach and promote 
to a higher condition. 

In pursuance of his noble design. King Alfred, not content to 
point out, merely, the way to excellence, but eager himseK to 
tread it, with unremitting labour rendered into English numbers 
of books, which at that time were of the greatest renown in the 
Latin Literature, and it is a remarkable fact that there are at this 
moment in existence three of the very copies of Gregory's Pas- 
toral, translated by himself, which, by his orders, were placed in 
the different cathedral churches for the use of his people. 

It is true that the few original compositions of King Alfred, his 
prefaces and insertions, are but a small part, compared with the 
whole body of his writings ; but they are so intimately connected 
with the works which they introduce or explain, that it would 
be impossible to separate them from the places to which they are 
attached, and to form a distinction between original writings and 
translations. Besides, whoever has read the latter, must be aware 
how much original matter they also contain, how freely the king 
translated, and how many additional ideas are entirely his own. 
In fact, not one of the works can be called a strict translation ; 
they have all been transformed by Alfred for the particular use 
of his countrymen and his clergy. This varies, of course, in the 
different works ; by far the most and highly important insertions 
occur in his Orosius, where is found the famous account of Othere 
and Wulfstan's travels in the north of Europe, and many more 
geographical and historical notices in different parts of the book. 
It is much the same with the translation of Boethius, where, 
instead of the mythology of the Roman poet, Alfred occasionally 
inserted that of his own people. In the translation of Bede*s 
ecclesiastical history, on the contrary, we miss now and then some 
paragraphs, which are found in the original, especially those in 
which the events of Northumbria are more fully recorded ; as the 
king of the West-Saxons wrote for the southern part of this island, 
he rejected whatever did not appear to him to be of general 


interest The Pastoral of St Gregory, and the Dialogues of the 
same pope translated by bishop Werfrith, under the king's especial 
superintendence, also deviate frequently from their Latin original. 
In the Jubilee edition of the works, care has been taken to collate 
the versions with the original Latin authors, and to discriminate, 
by short notes or otherwise, all the additions and changes made 
by the royal translator. 

As it is not expedient to classify the works of Alfred as original 
writings and translations, so also is it impossible to arrange them 
historically, according to the time in which they might have been 
written. With regard to most of them this point is not at all 
certain. We only know that Alfred was employed in literary 
studies during eight or nine years of peace, between the first 
complete defeat of the Danes under their king Guthrum-Ethelstan 
in 878, until the time when, after the death of the converted 
Northman (c. A. 891), the war broke out again. Moreover Asser 
who became attached to the king not earher than the year 884, 
asserts expressly, that Alfred, with his assistance, only then began 
to translate from the Latin into his native tongue, and that the 
text of Boethius was prepared and glossed by him for the king's 
use. It is only the translation of the Pastoral the date of which 
may be tolerably sure, because Alfred addressed one copy of it 
to archbishop Plegmund, whose accession to the see of Canterbury, 
according to the Saxon Chronicle, took place in the year 890. 
It may be presumed, that this was one of Alfred's last literary 
labours, as from the year 893 to the end of his life he hardly 
could have found time for such an occupation ; for the dangerous 
enemy of his country again required his whole attention during 
that period. About the date of the other works no allusion is to 
be found. 

Here then, — and with little further preface — ^we launch the 
Jubilee Edition upon the sea of public opinion, trusting that it will 
be judged by the standard,— not of the 19th,— but of the 9th cen- 
tury. And yet not so : — we will not lower the remains of the great 
Alfred by measuring him with so low a standard. Let us rather 
say that his memory shall yet live another thousand years in those 
works of the intellect, which he has left as the best legacy behind 
him, — those works which even now, after the revolution of the 


mightiest cycle that mankind can hope to compass^ stand out, 
every now and then, in some noble thought, high above the puny 
efforts of a world of scribblers, to shew that, of all the many vir- 
tues in his composition, the least was to have been bom a king ! 

That Alfred was a good king, a great statesman, and a warrior 
of consummate talents, has been fully proved by a hundred wri- 
ters who have, directly or indirectly, made him the subject of 
their praises. His abilities, as an author, have also not escaped 
notice ; but the world requires to be constantly reminded even of 
the most homely truths. The greatest boons that have been con- 
ferred on humanity are speedily forgotten, unless repeatedly 
brought before the eyes of the existing generation. Virtue, says 
the poet, is hated by her contemporaries, and, if not suffered to 
die outright, yet certainly slumbers, until the bosom that harbours 
her is cold. Then, we are told, she rises from her lethargy, and 
soaring above the reach of apathy, is an object of admiration to 
every heart and of panegyric to every tongue. But there is a 
second bourn of forgetfulness, from which few, even the most 
brilUant of our species, have escaped, and this second wave of 
obUvion generally overwhelms its victim for ever. What is now 
actually known of those great heroes whose names still sound — 
but as little more than empty echoes — on the tongues of our 
countrymen, or in the pages of our writers ? Where are the deeds 
of King Arthiu" — of Cymbeline — of Caswallon ? Where are the 
lays and harpings of Merlin, TaUessin, and a crowd of bards, who 
once excited or controlled the passions of multitudes, and directed 
them in harmony, as if they were knit into one mass ? These 
have perished, by the law of things, which allows nothing to be 
everlasting. If then the name and actions of our own Alfred 
have survived the term which is fatal to the rest of mankind, — ^if 
he is still the object of ardent admiration to those who are of kin- 
dred blood, and who feel that he was in thoughts and feelings one 
of themselves, it must siu-ely be the superior brilliancy of his cha- 
racter or of his intellect which has floated him down the stream, 
where others have been swallowed up, even to the end of the long 
period of a thousand years. 

But, it seems, a new term of life awaits the father of a mighty 
nation. On the bloody field of victory, where the enemies of 
England lay slain, Alfred planted the tree of legislation, which 
has struck a deep root into the fertilized soil, and has long since 


put forth leaves and branches. This tree has blossomed and 
borne fruit — yes ! fruit which millions of Englishmen — say rather, 
Anglo-Saxons, in America and Germany, as well as England, will 
be able to gather and to store up in their own homes, and to say, 
as they show them to their children,*^^' Here, children, are the 
" best memorials of a mighty monarch ; the legacy, which the 
*' great Alfred bequeathed to his countrymen, more precious than 
" the jewels which adorn the crown of Victoria, of ^more worth 
*' than the revenues of kings. Here are contained the burning 
*' words of him, whose life was only long enough to fulfil the work 
*' which was allotted him, who died worn out with the toils of 
''saving his own generation from ruin, and yet has left these 
''writings behind him to enlighten all succeeding generations. 
" These, children, are the Works of King Alfred the Great, of 








A. D. 849—901. 

The history of King Alfred's Life and Times is to be gathered 
from three different classes of written records : 

1. Chronicles containing a notice of public and private events during 
the period in which King Alfred lived; i. e. from the year 849 to the 
year 901. 

2. Incidental notices of those times, found in other writings, such as 
Homilies, Letters, Councils, Charters &c, whether contemporary or of a 
later date. 

3. The writings of King Alfred himself. 

Of King Alfred's own writings, as published collectively, in 
these volumes, it is unnecessary here to speak. 

The second of the three classes of documents, above-mentioned, 
namely Homilies, liOtters, Councils, Charters, and other short 
pieces, furnishing incidental notices of King Alfred's life and times, 
have, up to the present time, been only partially collected, and 
are still in so uncertain a state, being mostly unpubUshed, and the 
information which each of them furnishes is so little3that we need 

Emsjs 1 


only mention Mr Kemble's collection of charters, *' Codex 
diplomaticus aevi Anglo-Saxonici," and may proceed at once to 
pass in review the first and principal source from which almost all 
that we know of the life and history of king Alfred is derived 
These are, the regular Chronicles or annals of English history, 
drawn up by monks and ecclesiastics, who hved and wrote 
between the time of the Reformation and the first introduction 
of the Christian religion into this island. 

These chronicles are valued in proportion as the author was 
contemporary or not with the events which he records ; but in 
some cases we know so little about the writers that it is impossible 
for us to determine whether they furnish original evidence or 
write from second hand. In few cases do we know more about 
these chroniclers than may be gathered from some brief sentences 
interspersed in various parts of their works. It is necessary, 
therefore, to judge each of them on his own merits, and constantly 
to refer their statements to those tests which criticism supplies, 
as the best means of ehciting the truth. 

The most approved of these methods is certainly to compare 
one chronicle with another ; for if, by this process, all are found 
to be at variance, we may safely say that no satisfactory inference 
can be deduced ; but if, on the contrary, all agree in the main 
points of their narratives, it is an obvious result that all are founded 
upon a ground-work of truth. If any period of English history 
is of sufficient importance to warrant this laborious comparison of 
authorities, it is surely the latter half of the ninth century, which 
coincides with the life of king Alfred the Great ; for those fifty 
years abound in brilliant deeds and stirring events, which have 
had an influence on the condition of this country, its laws and 
liberties, even down to the present time. 

Notwithstanding the importance of the subject, it is nevertheless 
a fact, that we do not possess a single ancient chronicle, which 
can be shewn to be undoubtedly contemporary with the period of 
which we have now to speak. It is, indeed, generally believed 
that we have one, at least, if not two contemporary histories of 
this period ; but there are certain difficulties connected with one 
of these, and a want of conclusive evidence respecting the antiquity 
of the other, which make it necessary to receive both, not perhaps 
with suspicion, but with that reserve, which, whilst it dignifies 
every enquiry after truth, not unfrequently leads at last to the 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 3 

place, where truth may with the greatest certainty be found. 
These remarks will be more intelligible, as we proceed to examine 
severally the chronicles which form the basis of English history 
between the year 849 when Alfred was born at Wantage, and 901, 
the year of his death. 

I. The first of these is generally called tlie Saxon Chronicle, 
because it is written in the old Saxon tongue, and forms a 
contiuous record of the old Saxon times. Seven ancient manuscripts 
of this invaluable document have been preserved, some of which 
are thought to have been written as early as the ninth century, 
and therefore to be contemporary with king Alfred. It would 
far exceed our present limits to give even a superficial account of 
these manuscripts and the various questions which arise concerning 
them. The reader may refer, for more minute particulars, to a 
folio volume '^ Materials for the History of England, &c." edited 
by Mr Petrie and published by the Record Commission ; to 
Dr Ingram's edition of the Saxon Chronicle ; to the little 
volume containing a translation of Bede's Ecclesiastical History 
and of the Saxon Chronicle, published in Mr Bohn's Anti- 
quarian Library ; and to a small volume entitled a '' Dissection of 
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle &c. &c." London, 1815. 

One observation however must be made, relating to its con- 
temporary character. The gradual variation of style from a 
more rude to a more modern dialect, so conspicuous throughout 
the Chronicle, has led to the obvious supposition that it is the 
gradual work of succeeding ages, the notice of each event having 
been inserted by the next succeeding chronicler who lived at the 
time or in the generation immediately succeeding. As applied to 
the period with which we are now concerned, it is very remark- 
able that the chronicle does not notice the birth of Alfred in 849, 
but is highly laudatory of him under 901 the year of his death, 
and for several preceding years. The inference, which I draw 
from this fact, is, that the events of 849 and following years were 
written before Alfred's fame was established, and that those of 
901 and the years immediately preceding were written by some 
contemporary when Alfred's reputation was at its height. 

II. Asser's Life op Alfred. The second historical record of 
this period is a work, professing to be a life of Alfred by Asser, 
one of his friends and bishops. Its authority, on the one hand, 
rests upon general tradition ; but, on the other hand, has been 


questioned on account of certain difficulties, which I shall here 
briefly mention. 1. It consists of two elements, the one biogra- 
phical, the other historical. 2. The historical notices are in many 
places identical in language with the other chronicles of this 
period, and everywhere correspond most remarkably ; as if all had 
been drawn from some common original. 3. The biographical 
notices, though interesting, are inserted at random in various 
parts of the work. The two sides of this complicated question 
have been severally taken, the one by Mr Wright, who impugns 
the authenticity of the work in his '' Biographia Anglo-Saxonica,** 
page 408, and more fully in a paper read before the Antiquarian 
Society, and printed in the Archaeologia : the other by Dr Lingard, 
who defends it, in his '' History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon 
Church," vol. ii, page 420. The work does not extend fiuther than 
the year 893, and the whole of it is given in this Harmony of the 

III. Ethelwerd, sumamed the ' Patrician,' has left a chronicle 
of England down to the reign of king Edgar, written in the most 
barbarous and inflated Latin style that can possibly be conceived. 
He says, in his own work, that he was descended from Ethelred 
the brother of king Alfred. He lived in the latter half of the 
eleventh century and therefore was coeval with the Norman 
Conquest. His work is copied almost wholly from the Saxon 

IV. Florence of Worcester, so called from the abbey, in 
which he was a monk, compiled a chronicle of English history, 
partly from the Saxon Chronicle, and partly from the work of 
Marianus Scotus, extending to the year 1118, when its author 
died. A continuation, by an anonymous author, brings down the 
history to the year 1141. 

V. Henry of Huntingdon. This writer tells us, in a letter 
published in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. ii, p. 694, that he was 
an adherent of Robert Bloet, bishop of Lincoln from a. d. 1092 
to 1122. He is sumamed 'of Huntingdon,' because he was arch- 
deacon of Huntingdon ; and not from the place of his birth. He 
died about the middle of the twelfth century. His works 
consist of his History or Chronicle, and various poems, epigrams 
and hymns, which were collected by their author before his 
death, and published in twelve books, part of which only has 
been printed. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 5 

VI. Simeon op Durham^ a monk of Durham, and praecentor of 
that church, lived about the year 1130, and wrote a Chronicle or 
Annals of English history from the time of the Saxon Heptarchy 
down to the year 1129; and for part of this period he wrote a 
duplicate work, varying in several respects, but principally in 
phraseology, from the former. There has not yet been any com- 
plete edition of the two works. 

These six chronicles form the ground work of our authority 
for the period of English history preceding the times in which 
their authors lived. In the ' Harmony ' their narratives will be 
arranged in parallel columns ; for which mode of treatment, they 
are admirably adapted by the tabular form of annals into which 
they were originally thrown by their authors. 

There are, however, several other mediaeval writers which 
require to be noticed, because, though mostly later in date, they 
have added minor facts, which the foregoing principal chroniclers 
have omitted. These are William of Malmesbury, Ingulf, and 
the anonymous author of the Chronicle of St Neot's commonly 
called Asser's Annals. 

1. The first of these, William of Malmesbury, was coeval 
with some of the six chroniclers before enumerated, as he died in 
1140; but the nature of his work, which does not follow the 
order of chronology, and is not arranged in the form of annals, 
renders it less adapted for being introduced into a Harmony than 
those before mentioned. He is the author of a " History of the 
Kings of England,** De gestis Regum Anglice, and *' a History of the 
bishops," De gestis Pontijicum, besides some works of inferior note. 

2. Ingulf op Croyland, was secretary to William the Con- 
queror ; he has left us a History of Croyland abbey, which has been 
continued by an anonymous author, said to be Petrus Blesensis, 
down to a. D. 1118. Doubts of the authenticity of this work have 
been entertained by many writers [See Wright's Biog. vol. ii, 
page 29] ; but this question cannot be discussed within our 
present limits. 

3. The Chronicle of Saint Neot, is sometimes called Asser's 
Annals, because supposed to have been compiled by the same 
Asser who wrote the Life of Alfred. This, however, is another 
of those historical difficulties for the solution or even the investi- 
gation of which a separate treatise would be required. The most 
remarkable feature of the Annals, as regards our present subject. 


is their identity in language with the Life of Alfred in at least 
three-fourths of what they have in common : and a second 
peculiarity of the Annals is that some passages in Alfred's life^ oi 
a vague and uncertain character^ seem to rest on their authority 
alone. They omit some things mentioned in the Life, and else- 
where supply additional matter : they end in the year 914. 

Such are principally the works which have been brought togethei 
to form this Harmony of the Chroniclers during the life of king 
Alfred ; and the mode in which they are arranged, with every othei 
necessary particular, will be readily understood, with the help oi 
the following observations. 

L The six oldest chroniclers are arranged in six parallel 
columns, so that the different accounts of the same transaction arc 
found side by side. 

2. Variations of fact only, and not of mere language, found ir 
the three subsidiary writers, above described, are inserted in smallei 
type, as near as may be to the six principal narratives. 

3. Notes, illustrations, and occasional extracts from later writers 
Matthew of Westminster, Matthew Paris, John Brompton, anc 
others, are also, in like manner, given in a smaller type. 

Sorim CiiroiticU 

CtlitltDtrb 84< 


♦ A user's Life of Alfred is super- 
scribed thus : To MT V£KKftABLS 
LAND or Bkitain, to Alfkkd, 
KINO or THE Anolo-Saxons, As- 


VANTs OF God a thousand-fold 


The Saxon Chronicle does not no- 
tice the birth of Alfred, or any other 
event occurring in 849 and 850. The 
genealogy, which here follows, is 
given in connection with the death 
of Ethelwolf, in the year 855. 

And he ^thelwulf 
was the ion of Ecgbreht, 
EcgbrehtofEalhmund, £al- 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 849, was bom JEl- 
PRED, kinff of the Anfful-Sax- 
ons, in tne royal vill which 
is called Wanating,* in that 
district which is called Ber- 
rocscire, which district is so 
called from Berroc Wood, 
where the box tree grows 
most abmidantly. 

His genealogy is traced in 
the following order. 

King iElfrcd was the son 
of king ^thelwolf, who was 
the son of £cgberth, who was 
the son of Ealhmund, who was 

• Wantage in Berkshire. 

Ethelwerd, like the Saxon Chron 
cle, gives the following genealogy I 
a later year (S57). 

The aforesaid king [Etrei 
wolf], therefore, was the so 
of king Ecgbyrht, and hi 
grandfather was Ealhrnuni 

FROM A. D. 840 TO 901. 7 

4. Words, abbreviated in the manuscripts, are written at length 
in the Harmony ; and the Arabic figures are used, for brevity's 
sake, instead of the Roman numerals, which are universally found 
in the manuscripts of the original writers. 

5. As the Harmony is intended for historical and not philolo- 
gical purposes, the text of the chronicles is given, not in the 
original Latin, but in an English literal translation. But the 
spelling of proper names, both in the Saxon column, which gives 
a vernacular idiom, and in the other chroniclers, who wrote in 
Latin, has been carefully retained, except in cases of manifest error. 

6. The whole text of the six principal chroniclers between the 
years 849 and 901 has been given ; and, in the same way, the 
whole of the supplementary chronicles, and all the Charters between 
the same dates, have been noticed in the Harmony. 

7. Wherever, in either of the columns, a paragraph has been 
displaced for the purpose of juxta-position, small figures, denoting 
the original order, have been prefixed to each paragraph, or an 
explanatory note has been attached. By these means the reader 
may for himself reconstruct the chronicle, in its original state. 

M9 /lamer 




Alfebd, king of the 
^Anglo-Saxons, is Dora in that 
dtstoict which is named Bar- 
roccscire, in the royal vill 
which is called Wanating, 
which district is so called 

from Berrocwood, 
where the hex tree grows 

most abundantly. 
Hif genealogy is traced in 

the foUowmg order. 

King Alfred was the son 

of king JStheluulf, who was 

the SOD of Ecgbert, who was 

the ioD of Alhmund, who was 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 849, arose light out 
of darkness : 

Elfred, king 
of the English, was bora in 

the royal vill, which is called 
Wanatinge by the English. 

His pnealogy is traced m 
the following order. 
King Elfred was the son 
of king Ethelwlf, who was 
the son of Egberht, who was 
the son of Alnmund, who was 


mund of Eafa, Eafa of Eop- 
pa, Eoppa of In^d ; Ingiid 
wa« brother of Ine kins of 
the West-Saxons, hewho neld 
the kingdom thirty seven 
winters, and afterwards went 
to St Peter, and there resig- 
ned his life ; and they were 
the sons of Cenred, Cenred 
of Ceolwald, Ceolwald of 
Cutha, Cutha of Cuthwine, 
Cuthwine of Ceaulin, Ceawlin 
of Cynric, Cynric of Cerdic, 
Cerdic of Elesa, ElesaofEsla, 
Esla of Gewis, Gowis of Wig, 
Wig of Freawine, Freawine 
of Frithogar, Frithogar of 
Brond, Brond of Bsldasg, 
Baeldseg of Woden, Woden 
of Frithowald, Frithuwald 
of Frealaf, Frealaf of Fri- 
thuwulf, Frithuwulf of Fin, 
Fin of Godwulf, Godwulf 
of Geat, 

t Or Ina. His memory ii itill 
preserved as a " househuld word," 
by the verger of Wells cathedral. 

f QewisssB, the West-Saxons. 

Geat of 
TaBtwa, Taetwa of Beaw, 
Beaw of Sceldwa, Sceldwea 

of Heremod, Heremod of 
Itermon, Itermon of Hath- 
ra, Hathra of Hwala, Hwala 
of Bedwig, Bedwig of Sceaf, 
that is, the son of Noe, he 
was bom in Noe's ark ; Lam- 
ech, Matusalem, Enoh, lae- 


the son of Eafa, who was the 
son of Eowwa, who was the 
son of Ingiid, — Ingiid, and 
Ine, t the famous king of 
the West-Saxons, were two 
brothers. Ine went to Rome, 
and there ending this life 
honourably, entered the hea- 
venly kingdom, to reign 
there for ever with Christ — 
Ingiid and Ine were the sons 
of Coenred, who was the son 
of Ceolwalde, who was the son 
of Cudam, who was the son 
of Cuthwine, who was the son 
of Ceaulin, who was the son 
of Cynric, who was the son 
of Creoda, who was the son 
of Cerdic, who was the son 
of Elesa, who was the son of 
Gewis, from whom the Brir 
tons name all that nation 
Gegwis,^ who was the son 
of Brond, who was the son 
of Belde, who was the son 
of Woden, who was the son 
of Frithowalde, who was the 
son of Frealaf, who was the 
son of Frithuwulf, who was 
the son of Fin || Godwulf, 
who was the son of Geat, 
which Geat the pagans long 
worshipped as a god. 

Sedulius makes mention of 

him in his metrical poem, as 

follows : 

When frentlle poets with their fictions vaJn 
In tragic language and bombastic strain 
To their god Geia, comic deity. 
Loud praises sing, &c. 

Ct^lnctl 849 

his great-grandfather Eafa, 
whose father was Eoppa, and 

father was Ingiid, brother of 
Ine, king of the Western- 
Angles, who ended his life 
at Rome; and the above- 
named kings derived their 
origin from king Cenred. 
Cenred was the son of Ceol- 
wald, son of Cuthwine, son of 
Ceaulin, son of Cynric, son 
of Cerdic, who also was the 
first possessor of the western 

Sart of Britain, after he had 
efeated the armies of the 
Britons : his father was Elesa, 
son of Esla, son of Geouis, 
son of Wiff, son of Freanuine, 
son of Friuiogar,son of Brond, 
son of Balder, son of Uuothen, 
son of Frithouuald, son of 
FreaUf, son of Frithouulf, 
eon of Fin, son of Goduulfe, 
son of Geat, 

Q Here are omitted the words *wlio 
was the son of; for Fin and God- 
wulf were two distinct persons, 
father and son. There are many 
other similar errors in all the six 
chronicles ; but it will be unnecess- 
ary to notice them : the paralld 
columns of the others will, in almost 
every case, indicate and correct the 

Geata was the son of Ccetwa, 
who was the son of Beaw, 
who was tlie son of Sceldwea, 

who was the son of Heremod, 
who was the son of Itermod, 
who was the son of Hathra, 
who was the son of Huula, 
who was the son of Bedwig, 
who was the son of Sem, 
who was the son of Noe, 
who was the son of Lamech, 

son of Tetuua, 
son of Beo, son of Scyld, 
son of Scef. This Scef 
came with one ship to an 
island of the ocean named^ 
Scani, sheathed in arms, and 
he was a young boy, and 
unknown to the people of 
that land ; but he was receiv- 
ed by them, and they guarded 
him as their own with much 
care, and afterwards chose 
him for their king. It is from 
him that king Athulf derives 

his descent. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

849 /Utmr 

the son of Eafa, who was the 
son of Eoppa, who was the 
son of Ingus, — Ingils and 
Ine, the famous lung of 
the West'Saxons, were two 
brothers. Ine went to Rome, 
and there ending this life 
honourably, entered the hea- 
venly kingdom, to reign 
there with Christ. — Ingils 
and Ine were the sons 
of Coenred, who was the son 
of Ceolwald, who was the son 
of Cutha, who was the son 
of Cuthwin, who was the son 
of Ceaulin, who was the son 
of Kenric, who was the son 
of Creodi, who was the son 
of Cerdic, who was the son 
of Elisi, who was the son of 
Esle, who was the son of 
Gewis, from whom the Bri- 
tons name all that nation 
Gewis^ who was the son of 
Wig, who was the son of 
Freawine, who was the son of 
Freodegar, who was the son 
of Brand, who was the son 
of Bealdeag, who was the son 
of Woden, who was the son 
of Frithewald, who was the 
son of Frealaf, who was the 
son of Fritheulf, who was the 
son of Finn, who was the 
son of Godulf, who was the 
son of Gseta, which Geeta the 
pagans long worshipped as a 

who was the son of Cetwa, 
who was the son of Beawa, 
who was the son of Sceldwa, 

the son of Affa, who was the 
son of Eoppa, who was the 
son of Ingild, — Ingild and 
Ine were brothers. Ine was 
the most famous king 
throughout the borders of all 
the nation of the English, 
who royally ruled the king- 
doms of the western regions, 
and, when he had passed 
several years in his kingdom, 
went to Rome, leaving his 
country and present King- 
dom, that he might possess 
with Christ an eternal one, 
which the power of the di- 
vine majesty gave to him — 
These were the sons of 
Coenred, who was the son of 
Ceolwold, who was the son 
of Guda, who was the son 
of Cuderwine, who was the 
son of Ceawiin, who was the 
son of Cinric, who was the son 
of Creoda, who was the son 
of Cerdic, who was the son 
of Elesa, who was the son of 
Gewis, from whom the Bri- 
tons name all that nation 
Gegwis, who was the son 
of Brand, who was the son 
of Belde, who was the son 
of Woden, who was the son 
of Frithuwald, who was the 
son of Frealaf, who was the 
son of Fridrenwulf, who was 
the son of Gets, whom 
the pagans long worshipped 

as a god. 

Sedulius, the famous poet, 

makes mention of him in his 

Paschal poem, beginning 

thus : 

When gentile poets with their fictioni 
In tragic language ft bombastic itiain 
To their god Geta, comic deity, 
Loud praises sing &c. 

Geta was the son of Cetwa, 
who was the son of Beaw, 
who was the son of Seldwa, 

who was the son of Heremod, 
who was the son of Itermod, 
who was the son of Hathra, 
who was the son of Wala, 
who was the son of Bedwig, 
who was the son of Seth, 
who was the son of Noah, 
who was the son of Lamech, 
who was the son of Matu- 

who was the son of Heremod, 
who was the son of Itermod, 
who was the son of Hatra, 
who was the son of Wala, 
who was the son of Bedwig, 
who was the son of Sem, 
who was the son of Noe, 
who was the son of Lamech, 
who was the son of Matusa- 




red,'Maleel, Cainon, Enoa, 
Seth, Adam, primus homo et 
pater noster, id est Christus. 

CHARTERS in 849. 1. Alrhuit 
biihop of Worcerter. Kemble'i Co- 
dex, vol. II, p. S.1. 2. Bektwolp, 
king of Mercia, lb. p. 34. 

who was the son of Methu- 
salem, who was the sonof 
Enoch, who was the son of 
Malaleel, who was the son 
of Cainan, who was the son 
of Enos, who was the son of 
Seth, who was the son of 

The mother of Alfred was 
named Osburgh, a religious 
woman, noble both by birth 
and by nature ; she was 
daughter of Oslac, the famous 
butler of king iEthelwulf, 
which Oslac was a Goth by 
nation, descended from the 
Goths and Jutes, of the seed, 
namely, ofStuf and Wihtzur, 
two brothers and counts; 
who, having received posses- 
sion of the Isle of Wight from 
their uncle, king Cerdic, 
and his son Cynric their 
cousin, slew the few British 
inhabitants whom they could 
find in that island, at a place 
called Gwihtgaraburhg ;* for 
the other inhabitants of the 
island had either been slain 
before, or escaped into exile. 

(Etl|tltDtrb 849 

• The Wfhtwara, or in the Latin 
fonn, Vectuaeh, are the " Inha- 
bitants of Wight : " hence " Wihtffi- 
raburg" the •* town of the inhabi- 
tants of Wight : " its modern name 
is Cakisbkook. Matthew of 
Webtminitek says " Withgares- 
burgh i. e. burgum Withgari," With- 
gare's borough. 

A. 850. 

CHARTERS i« 850. Two of 
BTBBLW0L7 Icing of Wessex. II, 36. 

An. 851. Here alderman 
Ceorl fought with the heathen 
men in Devonshire at Wic- 
ganbeorge [Wembury,] and 
there made great slaughter, 
and gained the victory. 

2 And the heathen men 

first sat over winter in 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 851, which was the 
third after the birth of king 
Alfred, Ceorl, earl of Devon, 
with the men of Devon fought 
against the pagans at a place 
called WicgambeoTg ; and 
the Christians gained the vic- 

And that same year the 
pagans first wintered in the 
island called Sheppey, which 
means the Sheep-isle, and is 
situated in the river Thames 
between Essex and Kent, but 
is nearer to Kent than to 
Essex ; It has in it a fine 

monastery [MinsterI. 

When seven years, then, had 
passed, Ceorl earl of Devon 
engages in battle against the 
pagans at a place called Uui- 
ganbeorge ; and they slay 
many of the Danes, and keep 
possession of the place of 

2 But in the course of that 
year the barbarians first 
wintered in the island of 
Thanet, which lies not far 
from Britain, and has fruitful 
but not large cornfields. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


851 /Urme 

ttlem, who was the son of 
Enoch, who was the son of 
Jared, who was the son of 
Malaliel, who was the son of 
Cainan, who was the son of 
Enos, who was the son of 
Seth, who was the son of 

The mother of Alfred was 
named Oshurga, a reliffioua 
woman, nohle hoth hy hirth 
and by nature ; she was 
daughter of Oslac, the famous 
butler of king ^theluulf, 
which Oslac was a Goth by 
nation, descended from the 
Goths and Jutes, of the seed, 
namely, of Stuf and Wihtgar, 
two brothers and counts, 
who, having received posses- 
lion of the Isle of Wight from 
their uncle, king Cerdic, 
and his son Cynric their 
coosin, slew the few British 
inhabitants whom they could 
find in that island, at a place 
called Wihtgarabirig ; for 
the other inhabitants of the 
island had either been slain 
before, or escaped into exile. 


lem, who was the son of 
Enoch, who was the son of 
Malaleel, who was the son of 
Canaan, who was the son of 
Enos, who was the son of 
Seth, who was the son of 

Adam the first man. 
But the mother of king Elfred 
was called Osburg ; she was 
a very religious woman and 
noble in disposition, which 
nobility she adorned with 
prudence of mind. Her 
father lUso was called Oslac ; 
he was the devoted and 
faithful butler of king Ethel- 
wlf. For he was sprung 
from the Goths and the Jutes, 
of the seed of Stuph and 
Wihtgar, two brotners. 

Having premised these 

things, let us now, as far as 

we can, pursue the course of 

the work, which we have 


850. On the calends of June 
[June 1], the eve of Whitsun- 
day, Berhtferth, son of Berhtulf king of the Mercians, 
unjustly slew his relation St Wistan. Now this man was 
the grandson of two Mercian kings : for his father Wigniund 
was son of king Wielaf, but his mother iElfleda was daugh- 
ter of king Ceoluuif. But his body, being borne to the 
monastery at that time so famous, named Reopedun 
[Rcpton], was buried in the mausoleum of his grandfather 
king Wiglaf. To his martyrdom heavenly miracles were 
not wanting : for from the place in which the innocent youth 
was slain, a column of light, stretching up to heaven, was 
visible for 30 days to all the neighbours of that place. 

851. Ceorl earl of Devon, 
with the men of Devon, fought 
•gainst the pagans at a place 
called Wicganbeorh ; and 
the Christians gained Uie vic- 

J ihe consul also named 
Ceorl, with the people of 
Devonshire, fought against 
the pagans, and slew many, 
and was victorious at Wien- 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 851 and the third 
from the birth of Alfred, earl 
Ceorl fought against the 
Danes, and the Christians 
gained the victory over their 

And that same year the 
pagans first wintered in the 
island called Sheppey, which 
means the Sheep-isle, and is 
situated on the river Thames 
between Essex and Kent, but 
is nearer to Kent than to 
Essex; it has in it a fine 

7 This year the army of the 

pagans first stopped through 

the whole winter in this 


The Danes also wintered in 
the island which is called 
Sheppey, i. e. Sheep-island. 



3ar0ii Cl^romrlt 

3 And the same year came 
three hundred and fifty ships 
to Thamefi-niouthy and tne 
crews landed and hroke into 
Canterbury and London, and 
put to flight Beorhtwulf king 
of the Mercians with his 

\ Canterbury was called DoftDBX&- 

NiA, L e. DovBK, in the earlier part 

of the Saxon History. 

The same year also a great 
army of tne pagans came 
with three hunared and fifty 
ships to the mouth of the 
river Thames, and sacked 
Donibernia, § which is the 
city of the Cantuarians, [and 
also the city of London, •] 
which lies on the north bank 
of the river Thames, on the 
confines of Essex and Mid- 
dlesex ; but yet that city 
belongs in truth to Essex ; 
and they put to flight Beorh- 
tulf, king of Mercia, with 
all the army, which he had 
led out to oppose them. 

<ttl|tltDtrb 851 

3 That year was not yet 
finished, when a large fleet of 
pagans came, with 350 ships, 
to the mouth of the river 
Thames, commonly called 
Thames>mouth, and destroy- 
ed the city of Canterbury 
and the city of London, and 

Sut to flight Beomulf king of 
lercia, having defeated his 

* The words In brackets do not 
occur in Asser, but it is evident that 
they have been omitted by the copy- 
ist ; for the descriptive words which 


not apply to Canterbury. 

4 And then went south over 
the Thames into Surrey ; and 
there king ^thelwulf and his 
son ^thelbald, with the army 
of the West-Saxons, fought 
against them at Aclea 
[Ocklby], and there made 
the greatest slaughter among 
the heathen army that we 
have heard tell of unto the 
present day||, and there got 
the victory. 

B This must, apparently, have 

been written before the terrible 

battles which Alfred afterwards 

fought against the Danes at Ash- 

.down, and Eddington. 

CHARTERS in 851. 1. Bektwolf 

king of Mercia, Friday, March 27. 11, 

36. 2. Another of Bertwolf, II, 


f The Annals have " Athelstan son 

of King Adheiwlf." He was king of 

the eastern subject kingdom of Kent, 

Essex, and Sunsex. Some call him 

brother of Ethelwolf. 

1 And the same year king 
.Athelstan % and alderman 
Ealchere fought on ship- 
board, and cut off a large 
army at Sandwich in Rent, 
and took nine ships, and put 
the others to flight. 

After these things, the same 
army of pagans went into 

Surrey, which is 
a district situated on the 
south bank of the river 
Thames, and to the west of 
Kent And .ffithelwulf, king 
of the Saxons, and his son 
iEthelbald, with all their 
army, fought a long time 
against them at a place called 
Ac-lea, i. e. the Oak-plain, 
and there, after a lengthened 
battle, which was fought with 
much bravery on boUi sides, 
the greater part of the pagan 
multitude was destroyed and 
cut to pieces, so that we 
never heard of their being so 
slaughtered, either before or 
since, in any countrvi in one 
day; and the Christians 
gained an honourable victory, 
and were triumphant over 
the place of death. 

In the same year king iEthcl- 
stan and earl Ealhere slew a 
large army of the pagans in 
Kent, at a place called Sand- 
wich, and took nine ships of 
their fleet ; the others escap- 
ed by flight. 

4 After the battle they 
returned beyond the river 
Thames towards the south, 
through the province of Sur- 
rey, and there king Athulf 
with the Western Angles met 
them : an immense number 
was slain on both sides, nor 
have we ever heard of a more 
severe battle before that day : 
these things happened near 
Aclea Wood. 

ANNALS. 851. The Normans enter 
the Seine. 

INGULF sUtes that there was a 
severe disease in 851, prevalent over 
all England, which withered the 
limbs of men, women, and children, 
and was similar to the palsy. 

1 Also in the same year 
king .Athelstan and duke 
Ealhere fought against the 
army of the above-mentioned 
nation in the province of 
Kent, near the town of Sand- 
wich, where they slew niany 
of them, put their troops to 
flight, and took nine ships. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


85f /Urnre 

The same year also a great 
army of the pagans came 
vith three hunar^ and fifty 
ships to the mouth of the 
river Thames, and sacked 
Dombemia, which is the 
city of the Cantuarians, and 
also the city of London, 
which lies on the north bank 
of the river Thames, on the 
confines of Essex and Mid- 
dlesex; but yet that city 
belongs in truth to Essex ; 
and they put to flight Beorht- 
nnlf king of Mercia with 
aU his army, which he had 
led out to oppose them. 


1 Adelwlf, in the 16th year 
of his reign, and Edeloald 
his son, having assembled 
all their forces, fought with 
a great army, which with 
250 ships had put in at 
Thames-mouth and over- 
powered those illustrious 
cities, famous through so 
many years, namely London, 
and Canterbury, and defeated 
and put to flight Britwlf 
king of Mercia, with his 
army, who never afterwards 
throve again ; 


In the same year a great 
army of pagans came with 
350 ships mto the mouth of 
the river Thames. Who laid 
waste Dorobernia,i.e. the city 
of the Kentish men, and put 
to flight Berhtulf king of the 
Mercians with all his army, 
who had come to do battle 
against them. 

After these things, the same 
army of pagans went into 

Surrey, which is 
a district situated on the 
south bank of the river 
Thames, and to the west of 
KenL And ^theluulf, king 
of the West-Saxons, and his 
son iEthelbald, with all their 
army, fought a long time 
against them at a place called 
Ac-lea, 1. e. the Oak-plain, 
and there, after a fierce 
battle, which was fought with 
mnch bravery on both sides, 
the greater part of the pagan 
multitude was destroyed and 
cut to pieces, so that we 
never heard of their being so 
slaughtered, either before or 
since, in any country, in one 
day; and the Christians 
gained an honourable victory, 
and were triumphant over 
the place of death. 

In the same year king ^thel- 
itan and earl Ealhere slew a 
taige army of the pagans in 
Kent, at a place called Sand- 
wich, and took nine ships of 

3 And enter- 
ing Surrey, they met the 
royal squadrons at Achlea. 
There was fought, therefore, 
between those large armies 
so great and so severe a 
battle, as no one before had 
ever heard to have been 
fought in England. You 
might then have seen warrior 
men fall on both sides like a 
crop of com, and streams of 
blood roll with them the 
heads and limbs of the slain. 
But would it not be too great 
and wearying prolixity to 
describe each particular ? 
God gave the fortune of the 
battle to those who believed 
in him, and unutterable an- 
guish to those who des- 
pised him. King Adelwlf 
then was the glorious victor. 

« Simeon prefixes Amvo Domtvicjb 
Ikca&kationxs 852 to this para- 
graph, bat the other chroniclers are 
against him. 

4 The same year Edelstan, 
king of Kent; and duke Eal- 
here, fought a naval battle 
against the Danes at Sand- 
wich, and having made a 
great slaughter of the enemy, 

After this the Danes became 
more bold, and all their army 
was drawn together in Surrey. 
Which the warlike Ethelwlf 
king of the Saxons hearing, 
both he and his son Ethelbald 
with him collected a large 
army in a place which is 
called Aclea, that is, in the 
field of the oak. And 
when the pride of the En- 
glish nation shone with 
glancing arms, the English 
fought a very long time with 
the Danes ; bravely striving 
against them, because they 
saw that their king fought 
fiercely, therefore they be- 
came braver than their en- 
emies in war. And when 
they had manfully striven for 
a very long time, and both 
sides fought with much 
sharpness and spirit, the 
greatest part of the Pagan 
throng was thoroughly cut off 
and slain, so that never in 
any land, in one day, before 

or after, did so many fall. 
The Christians however on 
that same day honourably, 
gained the victory and were 
masters of the field of death, 
giving thanks to the Lord in 

hymns and confessions. 
• King Ethel- 
Stan and earl Alchere found 
a great army of the pagans 
in Kent in a place wnich is 
called At Sandwich ; f whom 

t At Sandwich : a customary 
Saxon idiom. 


$am CJ^romrlt Jlsser CtJieltDtrb 85i 

A. 852. Here at this time 
Ceolred abbat of Medesham- 

Btede and the monks let to Wulfred the land of Sempin- 
gaham, on this condition, that after his decease the land 
should return to the minster, and that Wulfred should give 
the land of Sliowaford [Sleaford] to Medeshamstede, and 
each year should deliver into the minster sixty fother of 
wood, and twelve fother of coal, and six fother of 
faggots, and two tuns full of pure ale, and two beasts fit for 
slaughter, and six hundred loaves, and ten measures of 
Welsh ale, and each year a horse, and thirty shillings, and 
one day's entertainment. At this agreement were present 
king Burhred, and archbishop Ceolred. and bishop Tunberht, 
and bishop Cenred and bishop Alhhun, and bishop Berhtred, 
and abbat Wihtred, and abbat Werhtherd, and alderman 
^thelheard and alderman Hunberht, and many others. 

* Thli local notice of Mxdbsham- 
■TZAD, i. e. Petsrborouoh, occur* 
in only one MS. of the Saxon Chro- 
nicle, which was probably trriUen by 
a monk of that abbey. 

CHARTERS im 852. 1. CKOLaso 
abbat of Peterborough. lubscribed by 
BvRORED king of Mercia &c. 11. 46. 
This Charter is partly the same as 
the extract from the Saxon Chronicle 
under this year. 2. BERTwuLf 
kingofMercia, II, 47. 

A. 853. Here Burhred king 
of the Mercians and his 
* witan ' begged of king 
iEthelwulf that he would 
assist him so that he might 
make the North-Welsh obe- 
dient to him. 

He then did so ; and went 
with an army across Mercia 
among the North- Welsh, and 
made them all obedient to 

3 And upon this after Easter 
iEthelwulf king of the West- 
Saxons gave his daughter • to 
Burgred king of Mercia. 

* Her name was Ethelswith. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 853, which was 
the fifth of king Alfred, 
Burgred, king of the Mer- 
cians, sent messengers, and 
prayed ^thelwulf king of 
the West-Saxons, to come 
and help him in reducing the 
midland Britons, who dwell 
between Mercia and the 
western sea, and who strug- 
gled against him most im- 

So without 
delay, king ^thelwulf, hav- 
ing received the embassy, 
moved his army, and ad- 
vanced with king Burghred 
against Britain, and immedi- 
diately on entering that 
country, he began to ravage 
it; and having reduced it 
under subjection to king 
Burghred, he returned home. 

4 In the same year also, after 
Easter, iEthelwulf, king of 
the West-Saxons, gave his 
daughter to Burgred, king of 
the Mercians, to be queen, 
and the marriage was cele- 
brated royally at the royal 
vill of Chippenham. 

After three years 
king Burhred asked assist- 
ance " from king ^theluulf 
to subdue the Northern 

He granted it, and 
having collected his army, 
passed through the Mercian 
kingdom to go against the 
Britons : whom he subdued 

and made tributary. 

3 The same year also after 

Easter king Athulf gave his 

daughter in marriage to king 


FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


853 /Urnire 

their fleet ; the others esca- took nine of their ships ; hut 
ped hy flight. the others fled. 

6 This year, therefore, was 

fortunate for the English 




they almost cut off in the same 
place, God granting them 
help, and seized nine of their 
ships : the rest struck with 
terror escaped hy flight 

852. Beorhtuulf, king of the 

Mercians, departed this life, 

to whom Burhred succeeded 

in the kingdom. 

2 To whom [Bert wolf] suc- 
ceeded Burrhed on the throne 
of Mercia. 

Borhred, king of the Mer- 
cians, by messengers, 
prayed JEtiieluulf king of 
the West-Saxons, to come 
md help him in reducing the 
midlana Britons, who dwell 
between Mercia and the 
western sea, and who strug- 
gled against him most im- 

So without 
delay, king iEtheluulf, hav- 
ing received the embassy, 
moved his army, and ad- 
vanced with king Burhred 
against Britain, and immedi- 
ately on entering Uiat 
country, he began to ravage 
it; and having reduced it 
under subjection to king 
Burhred, he returned home. 

Adelwlf, in the 18th year 
of his reign, most powerfully 
helped Borhred to subdue 
unaer his rule the North 

CHARTERS iv 853. Ethblwolf 
king of WeMex, lubscribed bjr 
Ethblbbhtui rex, Cialnothoi 
Dei irratia archiepiscopiu, and 
others, among whom we find " Ego 
Elbbbd fill regit consentl et tub- 
•cripti." II, 48. 

MATTHEW OF Wbitmikstxr 

relatei, under this year, a legend 

concerning the terrible death and 

damnation of a witch : also the fate 

of Charles Martel. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 853, of the birth 
of Alfred 5, Burhred king 
of the Mercians sent mes^ 
sengers, and begged £thelwlf 
king of the West Saxons to 
bring him help in order that 
he might be able to subdue 
under his dominion the 
midland Britons who dwell 
between Mercia and the 
Western Sea, who often 

strove against him. 
But King Ethelwlf, havine 
received his embassy, moved 
an army, distributed pay, 
and bravely went forth with 

king Burhred to war. 
Presently when he had begun 
to lay waste that nation, 
he took, slew, and subdued 
it to king Burhred, who giv- 
ing thanks sent him away 
with joy to return to his own 

3 In the same year also, after 
Easter, iEtheluulf, king of 
the West-Saxons, gave his 
daughter to Burhred, king of 
the Mercians, and the mar- 
riage was celebrated royally 
at the royal vill of Chippen- 

And gave him his daughter 
in marriage. 

3 The same year after the 
feast of Christ's holv resur- 
rection, king Ethelwlf, of 
glorious power, gave his 
daughter, with great glory, 
as it is customary for kings, 
to Burhred king of the Mer- 
cians, at the vill which is 
called At Chippenham ; 


301011 €l|nmirU ^r (StIfeltDerb 863 

I And the same year king 
^thelwulf sent his son 
iElfred to Rome. Leo was 
then pope of Rome , and he 
consecrated him king, and 
took him for his son at con- 
firmation. • 

* See note * in page 18. 

2 Then, in the same year» 
£alhere,with the men of Kent, 
and Huda, with the men of 
Surrey, fought in Thanet 
against the heathen army ; 
and at first they were vic- 
torious; and many there 
were slain, and drowned on 
either hand, and hoth the 
alderman were killed. 

1 In th» same year, king 
^thelwulf sent his son 
iElfred, above-named, to 
Rome, with an honourable 
escort both of nobles and 
commoners. Pope Leo [the 
fourth] at that time presided 
over the apostolic see, who 
ordained and anointed for 
kin^ the aforesaid child Al- 
fred, and confirmed him, 
receiving him as )ns son of 


2 The same year also, earl 
Ealhere, with the men of 
Kent, and Huda with the 
men of Surrey, fought bravely 
and resolutely against an 
army of the pagans, in the 
island, which is called in the 
Saxon tongue, Tenet, [Tha- 
net], but Ruim in British. 

3 And at first the Christians 
had the victory, but when 
the battle was protracted to a 

freat length, many fell on 
oth sides, and also were 
drowned in the water ; and 
both the earls were there 

1 In the same year kins 
Atheluulf sent his son Alfred 
to Rome in the days of our 
lord pope Leo, who conse- 
crated him king and named 
him his son in baptism, as 
we are accustomed to name 
little children, when we 
receive them from the 
bishop's hand. 

2 In the same year were 
fought battles in the isle of 
Thanet against the pagans ; 
and there was a great slau- 
ghter made on both sides, 
and many were drowned in 
the sea. 

A. 854. 

CHARTERS ik 854. 1. Ethbl- 
WOLF, king of Wessex. subscribed 
also by Alstan, " ^tbred flli. reg." 
and '• iElft-ed fill, reg." II. 50. This 
It the celebrated grant of tithes : it 

is dated April 22. 2. Another copy of 
the same charter loUows, p. 52, in 
which the names of Ethelred and 
Alfred do not appear. Both copies 
bear the subscription of the 
celebrated Swithun bishop of 
Winchester, and Alstan bishop of 

Sherborne. S Ethblwolf, April 
?S. 4. Ethklwolf, subscribed 
also by " ^TUKLaKD Alius regis," 
and " MhVKKV filius regis/' II. 55. 
5. BSKTWOLF of Mercia, no date, 
II, 55. 

A. 855. Here the heathen 

men first sat over winter in 


And the same year king 
^thelwulf gave by charter 
the tenth part of his land 
throughout his realm for the 
glory of God and his own 
eternal salvation. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 855, which was 
the seventh after the birth of 
the aforesaid king, the great 
army of the paeans passed 
the whole winter m the afore- 
said isle of Sheppey. 
In the same year the afore- 
said venerable king iEthel- 
wulf released the tenth part 
of all his kingdom from all 
royal service and tribute, and 
with a pen never to be for- 
gotten, offered it up to God 
the One and the Three in 
One, in the cross of Christ, 
for the redemption of his 
own soul and of his prede- 

After a year the 
pagans wintered in Sheppey. 

In the same year king 
Athulf gave the tenth of 
all his possessions to be the 
Lord's portion, and so 
appointed it to be in all the 
government of hb kingdom. 

INGULF places the grant of tithea 
in 855, after the return of Ethelwolf 
from Rome: bnt, if he started for 
Rome in 855, and stayed there 12 
months, it is certain that he returned 
in 856, and consequently, if the grant 
was made in 855, it must have been 
made before he started. Ethel wolf 
married Judith on the 1st of October 
85<r. [Bouquet, vU, 72] 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


855 fi$tmt 

1 In the same year, king 
^theluulf sent hia son 
£lfred, above-named, to 
Rome, with an honourable 
cteort both of nobles and 
commoners. Whom pope 
Leo, at his father's request, 
ordsdned and anointed for 
king, and confirmed, receiv- 
ing him as his son of 

3 The same year also, earl 
Ealhere, with the men of 
Kent, and Huda with the 
men of Surrey, fought bravely 
and resolutely against an 
army of the pagans, in the 
island, which is called in the 
Saxon ton|;ue. Tenet, [Tha- 
retI, but Ruim in the British. 
And at first the Christians 
had the victory, but when 
the battle was protracted to a 
mat length, many fell on 
both sides, and also were 
drowned in the water; and 
both the earls were there 


In the same year king 
Adelwlf sent to Rome, to 
pope Leo, his son Alured, 
whom Leo afterwards blessed 
as king, and received as his 


In this year duke Ealhere 
with the men of Kent and 
Huda with the men of Surrey, 
fought against the army of 
the pagans at Thanet; and 
a great number were slain 
on both sides and shipwreck- 
ed ; and both the dukes 

* The word here rendered duke, ii 
DUX in the Latin : it is rendered 
DUKK merely for the sake of con- 
venience : the word implies no 
specific title of honour. 


whereby, on the completion 

of the nuptials, he appointed 

her the dignity of the name 

of queen. 

1 In the same year king Eth- 
elwlf sent over to Rome his 
son Elf red accompanied by a 
great band of noble soldiers. 
At which time the blessed 
pope Leo presided over the 
apostolic see : who ordained 
and anointed for king the 
aforesaid child, and receiving 
him for his adopted son, con- 
firmed him and sent him back 
to his country and to his 
father with the blessing of St 

Peter the apostle. 

2 At that time earl Alchere 
and Wada, with the men of 
Kent and Surrey, fought se- 
verely against the army of the 
pagans in the island which 
IS called Tened in the Saxon 
tongue, but in the British 
Rum. At first the Christians 
had the victory ; but, when 
the battle was protracted to a 
great length, many fell on 
both sides, and many were 
drowned in the river and 
slain, a number not to be 
described. Both the afore- 
said leaders there fell for the 
deliverance of their people. 

834. Died Canbert bishop of 

Lindisfarne, and Eardulf 


year of Grace 854 died Wtmund 
archbishop of York to whom suc- 
ceeded WlLF£H. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 854, archbishop 
Wlfore received the pall, and 
Eardulf undertook the bisho- 
pric of Lindisfarne. 


The great 
army of the pagans passed 
the whole winter in the afore- 
said isle of Sheppey. 

In the tame year the afore* 
said venerable king i£thel- 
ttoif released the tenth part 
of all hia kingdom from all 
royal service and tribute^ and 
with s pen never to be for- 
gotten, offered it up to God 
the One and the Three in 
One, in the cross of Christ, 
for the redemption of his 
own soul and ofnis predeces- 

7 About this time the pagans 

tarried the whole winter in 


1 Ethelwolf, in the 19th year 
of his reign, tithed all his 
land for the service of the 
churches, on account of his 
love of God and for the re- 
demption of himself. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation B.'id, and the 
seventh from the birth of the 
aforesaid king, the army of 
the pagans wintered the 
whole winter in the island of 

At which time king Ethel wlf 
tithed all the dominions of 
his kingdom for the redemp- 
tion of his soul and that of 
his ancestors. 

ANNALS. Ay. K5S. Eadmund, the 
most glorious king of the East- 
Angles, begins to reign on the 8th 
before the calends of January, i. c. on 
our Lord's birth-day, in the 14th year 
of his age. 




$wm CI)r0iticU 

And the same year he went 
to Rome in great state, and 
dwelt there twelve months.* 

• One MS. of the Chron. giTe«, 
u parignph 7 (in page 26) the fol- 

7 '* Alf^rd hit third Km he had lent to 
Rome: and when pope Leo heard 
■ay that Athelwulf wai dead, he 
eonaecrated Alured king, and held 
him ai hit ipiritual eon at confir- 
mation, even as hia father AthewuK 
hade on sending him thither. 

The general authority of the Sax- 
on Chronicle lead4 to a doubt, 
whether Alfred may not have 
remained at Rome during the intei- 
Tal between the two sendings. 

In the same year he went to 
Rome with much honour; 
and taking with him his son, 
the aforesaid king Alfred, for 
a second joumev thither, he- 
cause he loved him more than 
his other sons, he remained 
there a whole year. 

(Ct|elofA 855 

And in the same year he set 

out to Rome with great 

dignity, and stopped there 

12 months. 

CHARTERS n 855. 1. Etkbl- 
WOLF, Nov. 5. mentions that Beorred 
king oflCcrrla, andEdmvndkiagof 
the Eastangles, were present and 
subscribed. II, 56. 2. Etbkl- 
woLr; subscribed also hy**Athel- 
berht rex," "JElfted fllius regis," 
and others. II, 58. 3. BoaoasD 
of Merda ; signed also by " ^thelv- 
with regina," ** Mucel dux," and 
others. II, 58. 4. BunenED. 
subscribed also by " Athelswith 
regina," and others. II, 60. 
5. Ealhwimx bishop of Worcester. 

(8) A. 85G. 

1 And then returned home- 
wards. And then Charles 
king of the Franks gave him 
his daughter to wife ; and 
after that he came to his 
people, and they were glad 
of it. 

After which he returned to 
his own country, hrineing 
with him Judith, dai^hter 
of Charles, the king of the 

On his way hack to his own 
country, Charles kin^ of the 
Franks gave to him m mar- 
riage his daughter, whom he 
received and brought into his 
own country. 

In the meantime, however^ 
whilst king iEthelwulf was 
residing beyond the sea, a 
base deed was done, repug- 
nant to the morals of all 
Christians, in the western 
part of Selwood. For king 
iEthelbald and Ealhstan, bis- 
hop of the church of Sher- 
borne, with Eanwulf, earl of 
the district of Somertoii,f are 
said to have made a conspi- 
racv together, that king 
jEthelwuif, on his return from 
Rome, should never again be 
received ifito his kingdom* This crime, unheard-of in all 
previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl 
alone, us resulting from their counsels. Many also ascribe 
it solely to the insolence of the king, because that king was 
pertinacious in this matter, and in many other perversities, 
as we have heard related by certain persons ; as also was 

f Earl of Somersetshire, of which 
Kmierton was once the chief town. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


856 Jlmut 

And thus he went to 
Rome with much honour; 
and taking with him his son, 
the aforesaid king Alfred, for 
a second journey thither, he- 
cause he loved nun more than 
his other sons, he remained 

there a whole year. 


2 Afterwards he went with 

great honour to Rome, and 

there dwelt one year. 


In the same vear, he set out 
with great nonour to the 

threshold of the 
prince of the apostles, having 
with him Elfred, because he 
loved him more than the 
others. The king of the 
English was received in a 
becoming way by the apos- 
tolic man ; and he remained 
there a whole year, diligently 
occupied in prayers and alms. 

3 And return- When he [ Ethel wolp] was 

ing thence, he took to wife returning to his ountry, 

the daughter of Charles the 
Bald king of France, and 
brought her with him into 

this country. 

ANNALS. An. 8S6. In the 18th 
year of the reign of Adhelwlf king 
•/ the West-Saxont, lluMBKKcnT 
bishop of the East Angles anointed 
with oil, and consecrated for king, 
the most glorious Eadmund with 
great Joy and the greatest honour, 
in the royal vill which is called 
Burna, because the royal seat 
was then there, in the 15th year of 
his age, the sixth day of the week, 
244h moon, being the day of our 
Lord's birth. 

(15) B66. 

1 After which he returned to 
his own country, bringing 
with him Juthith, daughter 
^ Charles, the king of the 


The most holy Edmund, 
beloved by God, sprung from 
the lineage of the old Saxons, 
and a true worshipper of the 
Christian faith, affable to all 
by his sweet mode of speech, 
and deeply imbued with the 
grace or humility, liberal to 
the needy, and a most merci- 
ful father to orphans and 
widows, obtained the govern- 
ment of the province of 

2 In the meantime, however, 
whilst king ^theluulf was 
residing beyond the sea, a 
base deed was done, repug- 
nant to the morals of^ all 
Christians, in the western 
part of Selwood. For king 
iEthelbald and F^alhstan, bis- 
hop of the church of Sher- 
borne, with Eanwulf, earl of 
the district of Soroerton, are 
said to have made a conspi- 
racy ti^ether, that king 
^theluuK, on his return from 

Rome, should never again be ^ , . r » n 

received into his kingdom. This crime, unhcard-o! m all 
previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl 

alone, as resulting from their counsels. Many also ascribed „„ .-.^«^j, . .« 
rt solely to the insolence of the king, because that kmg was exSnt. 
pertinacious in this matter, and in many other perversities, 
as we have heard related by certain persons ; as also was 

he became 
hateful to his son Ethel^ 
bald, and Ealhstan bishop of 
Sherborne, and many others. 

None are 



Soroii €!|t0m(lt 


proved by the remilt of that which follows. 
For, as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with 
all his counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, 
attempted to perpetrate the crime of repiUsin^ the king from 
his own kingdom ; but neither did God permit the deed, nor 
would the nobles of Saxony ♦ consent to it. For to per- 
vent this irremediable evil to Saxony, of a son warring 
against his father, or rather of the whole nation carrying on 
civil war, either on the side of the one or the other, the 
extraordinary mildness of the father, seconded by the con- 
sent of all the nobles, divided between the two the kingdom 
which had hitherto been undivided ; the eastern parts were 
given to the father, and the western to the son ; contrariwise : 
for where the father ought by just right to reign, there his 
unjust and obstinate son did reign ; for the western part 

of Saxony is always preferable to the eastern. 
When iEthelwulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, that 
nation, as was fitting, so delighted in the arrival of the old 
man, that, if he permitted them, they would have expelled 
his rebellious son iEthelbald, with all his counsellors, out of 
the kingdom. But he, as we have said, acting with great 
clemency and prudent counsel, so wished things to be done, 
that the kingdom might not come into danger ; and he 
placed Juditn, daughter of king Charles, whom he had 
received from her father, by his own side on the regal 
throne, without any controversy or enmity from his nobles, 
even to the end of his life, contrary to the perverse custom 
of that nation. For the nation of the West-Saxons do not 
allow a queen to sit beside the king, nor to be called a 
queen, but only the king's wife ; which stigma the elders 
of that land say arose from a certain obstinate and malevo- 
lent queen of the same nation, who did all things so contrary 
to her lord, and to all the people, that she not only earned 
for herself exclusion from the royal seat, but also entailed 
the same stigma upon those who came after her; for, in 
consequence of the wickedness of that queen, all the nobles 
of that land swore together, that they would never let any 
king reign over them, who should attempt to place a queen 

on the throne by his side. 
And because, as I think, it is not known to many whence 
this perverse and detestable custom arose in Saxony, con- 
trary to the custom of all the Theotiscan f nations, it seems 
to me right to explain a little more fully what I have heard 
from my lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, as he also 
had heard it from many men of truth, who in great part 

recorded that fact. 
'ITiere was in Mercia, in recent times, a certain valiant 
king, who was feared by all the kings and neighbouring 
states around. His name was Offa, and it was he who had 
the great rampart made from sea to sea between Britain t 
atid \f ercia. His daughter, named Eadburgh, was married 
to Berhtric, king of the West-Saxons ; who immediately, 
having the king s affections, and the control of almost all 
the kingdom, began to live tyrannically like her father, and 
to execrate every man whom Beorhtric loved, and to do all 
things hateful to God and man, and to accuse all she could 
before the king, and so to deprive them insidiously of their 
life or power ; and if she could not obtain the king's consent, 
she used to take them off by poison : as is ascertained to 
have been the case with a certain young man beloved by the 
king, whom she poisoned, findins that the king would not 
Ibten to any accusation against him. It is said, moreover. 

(Etl^elon:! 856 

* te. Emolamd. 

♦ " I Tedetchi "—Teutonic. 

} i. e. Wales. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


836 /linrme 



proved by the result of that which follows. 

3 For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with 
all hia counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, 
attempted to perpetrate the crime of repulsing the kmg from 
his own kingaom ; but neither did God permit the deed, nor 
would the nobles of all Saxony consent to it. For to per- 
▼ent this irremediable evil to Saxony, of a son warring 
a^nst his father, or rather of the whole nation carrying on 
avil war, either on the side of the one or the other, the 
extraordinary mildness of the father, seconded by the con- 
sent of all the nobles, divided between the two the kingdom 
which had hitherto been undivided ; the eastern parts were 

given to the father, and the western to the son ; 

for where the father ought by just right to reign, there his 

unjust and obstinate son did reign ; for the western part 

of Saxony is always preferable to the eastern. 

4 When iEtheluulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, that 
nation, as was fitting, so delighted in the arrival of the old 
man, that if he permitted them, they would have expelled 
his rebellious son iEthelbald, with all his counsellors, out of 
the kingdom. But he, as we have said, acting with ereat 
demency and prudent counsel, so wished things to be done, 
that the kingdom might not come into danger ; and he 
placed Judith, daughter of kin^ Charles, whom he had 
received from her father, by his own side on the regal 
throne, without any controversy or enmity from his nobles, 
even to the end ot hb life, contrary to the perverse custom 
of that nation. For the nation of the West Saxons do not 
allow a queen to sit beside the king, nor to be called a 
queen, but only the king's wife ; which stigma our elders 

say arose from a certain obstinate and malevo- 
lent queen of the same nation. 

6 For the malice of this queen, all the inhabitants of that land 

>wore together, that they would never allow any king to 

reign over them, who should command his queen to sit beside 

him on the royal throne. 

* The remarka which William of 
Malmesbory has made on the reign 
and character of Ethelwolf are 
worthy of notice : ** In the year of our 
Lord's incarnation 637, Ethelwulf, 
(whom some call AthulO •on of 


5 There was in Mercia, in 
recent times, a certain valiant 
king, Offa, whose daughter, 

named Eadburh, was married, as we have said before, 
to Brihtric, king of the West-Saxons; who immediately 
began to live tyrannically 
and to do all 
things hateful to God and man, and to accuse all she could 
before the king, and so to deprive them insidiouslv of their 
life or power ; and if she could not obtain the king s consent 
she used to take them off by poison : as is ascertained to 
have been the case with a certain young man beloved by the 
bng, whom she poisoned, finding that the king would not 
list^ to any accusation against him. It Ls said, moreover, 

Egbirht, reigned 20 yeari and five 
months: he was mild by nature, and 
moie inclined to live in peace than to 
command many provinces : in short, 
he was content with his paternal 
kingdom of the West-Saxons, and 
gave over as appanages to his son 
Ethelstan the others which his father 
had subdued. He assisted Burhred 
king of the Mercians with an 
auxiliary army against the Britons, 
and exalted him wonderftilly by 
giving him his daughter in marriage. 
The Danish pirates, who wandered 
over the whole island, and Infested 
all iU coasts with unexpected 
landings, were crushed more than 
once by him and his generals; 
though, according to the lot of war, 
he received frequent and severe 
losses at the hands of the same, 
whereby London and almost all 
Kent were' laid waste. But a stop 
was always put to these losses by the 
energy of the king's counsellors, who 
who would never allow the enemy 
to offend with impimlty, but took 
vengeance upon them with their 
united forces. For he had, in his 
time, two excellent prelates, the 
blessed Swithin of Winchester, and 
Alstan of Sherborne; who, seeing 
that the king was of a dull and heavy 
mind, impeUed him by their admo- 
nitions to the science of ruling. 
Swithun, sickened with earthly 
things, taught his lord to look to 
above ; Alstan, thinkins that public 
matters also were not to be neglected, 
encouraged him against the Danes, 
himself supplying money to the 
treasury, himself marshalling the 
army. He who reads the annals, 

[probably the SaXOM CBKOiriOLB 

IS meakt] will find many of his 
achievenents both bravely begun and 
happily ended. He lived 50 years in 
his bishopric, happy in having lived 
to do good for so long a time. I 
would willingly praise him, except 
that, led astray by human covet- 
ousness he acted unlawftilly when 
he deprived the monastery of 
Malmesbury of its possessions. We 
feel to this day the effects of his 
shameless conduct, though the place 
immediately after his death, stragg- 
led its way out of the violence that 
had been done it, even down to our 
own times, when it has fallen a|^ 
into the same danger [seized by 
RooEE Bp op Salisbuet im 1118] 
.... Ethelwulf relying on ' these 
two supporters, and providing for 
that which was without, whilst he 
did not slight what was within, 
after he had triumphed over his ene- 
mies, turned to the worship of God, 
and granted to Christ's servants the 
tenth of every hide of land within 
his kingdom, freed from all duties 
and from all annoyances. But how 
little glory was that f When he had 
settled his kingdom, he went to 
Rome, and there, he gave to 8t Peter 
the tribute, which Englaud still 
pays, in presence of pope Leo the 
Fourth, who also, before that, had 
honorably received and anointed for 
king his son Alfred when he had been 
sent unto him. Ethelwolf remained 
there a whole year, and beautifully 
repaired the school of the English, 
which, they say, was first founded 
by Offa king of the Mercians, and 
had been burnt the year before. 


301011 C^rorndt Jltfrr (Etjitliittd 856 

that king Beorhtric unwittingly tasted of the poison, though 
the queen intended to give it to the young man only, but 

the king took it too quickly, and so both perished. 
Beorhtric therefore being dead, the queen could remain no 

loneer among the Saxons, but sailed beyond the sea --*• 

with immense treasures, and went to the court of the great 
and famous Charles, kinf of the Franks. As she stood 
before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to 
her, " Choose, Eadburgh, between me and my son, who stands 
here with me." She repliedi foolishly, and without deliber- 
ation, ** If I am to have my choice, I choose vour son, be- 
cause he is younger than you." At which Charles smiled 
and answered, ** If you had chosen me, you would have had 
my son ; but as you have chosen him, you shall not have 

either of us." 
However, he ^ave her a large convent of nuns, in which, 
having laid aside the secular habit and taken the religious 
dress, she discharged the office of abbess during a few years : 
for, as she is said to have lived irrationally in her own coimtry, 
so she appears to have acted still more so in that foreign 
country ; for being convicted of havine had unlawful inter- 
course with a man of her own nation, she was expelled from 
the monastery b^ king Charles's order, and lived a vicious 
life of reproach in poverty and misery until her death ; so 
that at last, accompanied by one slave only, as we have 

heard from many who saw 

her, she begged her bread 

daily at Pavia, and so misera- 
♦ bly died. 

Now king iEthelwulf lived 

two years after his return from 

Rome ; during which, among « 

many other good deeds of this 

present life, reflecting on his 

departure according to the 

way of all flesh, that his sons 

might not quarrel unreason- 
ably after his death, he order- 
ed a letter of inheritance, or 

instructions to be written, in 

which he ordered that his 

kingdom should be divided 

between his t^o eldest sons, 

his private inheritance be- 
tween his sons, his daughter, 

and his relations, and the 

money which he left behind 

him, between his sons and 

nobles, and for the good oi 

his soul. 

Of this prudent 

policy we have thought fit to 

record a few instances out of 

many for posterity to imi- 
tate; namely, such as ore 

understood to belong princi- 
pally to the needs of the soul ; 

for the others, which relate 

only to human dispensation, 

it is not necessary to insert in 
this work, lest prolixity should 
create disgust in those who 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


856 JliltUt 



that king Bertric unwittingly tasted of the poison, though the 

queen intended to give it to the youne man only, hut the 

kine took it too quickly, and 00 hoth perished. 

7 Bertric therefore heing dead, the queen could remain no 
longer among the Wes^axons, hut sailed heyond the sea 
wiu immense treasures, and went to the court of the great 
and famous Charles, Idng of the Franks. As she stood 
before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to 
her, *' Chooee, Eadhurga, hetween me and mv son, who stands 
here with me." She replied, foolishly, and without deliher- 
ation, '' If I am to have my choice, 1 choose your son, he- 
cause he is younger than you." At which Charles smiled 
and answered, *' If you had chosen me, you would have 
had my son ; but as you have chosen hun, you shall not 

have either of us." 

8 However, he gave her a large convent of nuns, in which, 
having laid aside the secular habit and taken the religious 
dress, she discharged the office of abbess during a few years ; 
for, having been violated by a lav-man 

of her own nation, and expelled from 
the monastery by king Chanes's order, 
she at last brought her life to 
an end in poverty and 

9 King iBthelttulf lived two 
years, afVer his return from 
Rome ; during which among 
many other good deeds of this 
present life, reflecting on his 
departure according to the 
way of all flesh, that his sons 
miffht not quarrel unreason- 
ah^ after their father's death, 

he ordered a letter of 
bheritance to be written, in 
which he ordered that his 
kingdom should be divided 
between his two eldest sons, 
£thelbaldand iBthelbert, 
bii private inheritance be- 
tween his sons, his daughter, 
and his relations, ana the 
money which he left behind 
him, between his sons and 
nobles, and for the good of 
his soul. 

4 And when he [Ethelwolp] 

had kept her [Judith] two 


The most merciful king 
Ethelwlf lived two years after 
he set out for the city of 

Among other good deeds of 
this present life, to which he 
gave his royal mind, he medi- 
tated before-hand on his own 
death, and, that his sons might 
not quarrel after he had 
departed this life, he com* 
posed an epistle in an elegant 
style, wherein he gave away 
aU the things which belonged 

to himself. 



301011 Cl)t0ttklt 

read or wish to hear my 
For the henefit of his 
Boul, then, which he studied 
to promote in all things from 
the first flower of his youth, 
he directed through all his 
hereditary dominions, that 
one poor man in ten,* either 
native or foreigner, should he 
supplied with meat, drink, of shueoo. 
and clothing, hy his succes- 
sors, imtU tke day of judg- 
ment; supposing, however, 
that the country should still 
be inhabited both by men 
and cattle, and should not 
become deserted. 
He com- 
manded also a lar^e sum of 
money, namely, three hun- 
dred mancuses, to be carried 

every year 
to Rome for the good of his 
soul, to be distributed in the 
following manner: namely, 
a hundred mancuses in hon- 
our of St Peter, specially to 
buy oil for the lights of the 
church of that apostle on 
Easter eve, and also at the 
cock-crow : a hundred man- 
cuses in honour of St Paul, 
for the same purpose of 
buying oil for the church of 
St Paid the apostle, to light 
the lamps on Easter eve and 
at the cock-crow ; and a 
hundred mancuses for the 
imiversal apostolic pontiff. 

(ti\tt[mni 856 

• " In decem manentiboi" ii the 
expression of Asser. "in decern 
tnaniis,'* which is less intelligible* 

(9) A. 857. 

CHARTERS IN 857. 1. Bvna- 
]i£D of Mercia. April 18, subscribed 
also by "^thelswith reglna," and 
others. II, 63. 

(10) A. 858. 

2 And about two years after 
he came from France he died, 
and his body lies at Winches- 

3 And he reigned eighteen 

years and a half.f 

I Here follows (as paragraph 4 
according to the figures) the gene 
alogy given at page 6. 

But when king Ethelwulf was 

Lastly, after a year king 
Athulf died, and his body 
reposes in tne city of Win- 
And then was completed the 
fiftieth year from the begin- 
ning of king fcgbyrht's reign. 





Thkxx books aex kow vimxshbd, 


FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


858 /Urme 

10 For the benefit of his 
•oul, then, which he studied 
to promote in all things from 
the first flower of his youth, 
he directed through all his 
hereditary dominions, that 
one poor man in ten, either 
native or foreigner, should be 
supplied with meat, drink, 
and dothine, by his succes- 
sors, until the day of judg- 
ment; supposing, however, 
that the country should still 
be inhabited both by men 
and cattle, and should not 
become deserted. He com* 
manded also a large sum of 
money .namely 300 mancuses 
of pennies yearly to be carried 
to Rome for the good of his 
soul, to be distributed in the 
foDowing manner: i^amely, 
an hundred manci|ses in hon- 
our of St Peter, specially to 
buy oil for the lights of the 
church of that apostle on 
Easter eve, and also at the 
cock-crow : a hundred man-p 
cuses in honour of St Paul, 

for the same purpose, 

and 100 mancuses for the 

universal apostolic pontiff*. 

$irathigt0ii 3tmt0ii 

Throughout all the inheri- 
tance of his kingdom, he 
commanded that for every tea 
manses one poor man, either 
native or foreign, should be 
assisted or fed, with meat and 
drink or raiment, for himself 
and for all his successors. 

He also commanded that 300 
mancuses should be carried to 
Home for the redemption of 
his soul ; 100 to the gate of St 
Peter especiaUy to buy oil, 
loo in honor of St Paul, and 
)00 for the universal apostolic 

(16) 857. 

MATT. WE8TM. The uune year 
died Cedda bi«hop of Hereford, to 
whom succeeded Albert. 

(17) 858. 

11 When king Ethelwulf was 

dead,* on the ides of January 

[Jam. 131 ^^ ^^ buried at 


• The ANN \L8 My that he wm 
barietl at Stsninffham [Stemming in 


5 He was removed from 
among men, and was buried 

at Winchester. 

6 He had first been bishop at 
Winchester, but, on the 
death of Egbrict his father, 
necessity compelling it, he 
was made king ; and, having 
married a wife, he begat four 
sons, who were all kings 

after him. 

When, therefore, the glorious 
king Ethelwulf was dead, 




Sorot €l|r0tikle 


Ct|tlon:l 858 

6 And then ^thelwulf 's two 
Bons succeeded to the kmg- 
dora ; iEthelbald to the king- 
dom of the West-Saxons ; and 
^thelhryht to the kingdom of 
the Kentish-men, and to the 
kingdom of the East^axons 
and to Surrey and to the king- 
dom of the South-Saxons. 

C And then iEthelhald reign- 
ed five years.! 
I Here followi par. 7, given at 
note ♦ in page 18. 


CATXD. And, although I mat 


Ahd mat God Almiobtt, who it 


nr Ubjpotxhcx, bvxh phkbxhve 


WITH TOU. Amen! 


Crap. I.— Of the hkiob of thb 

■OKI OF kiho Athulf, mamblt 

Etublbald axd Ethxlbtbut. 

Meanwhfle after the death 
of king Athulf, his sons were 
raised to the kingdom, namely 
Ethelbald over the Western 
Angles, and .£thelhyrht over 
the men of Kent, and the 
Eastern, Southern, and Mid- 
laud Angles. 

His son ^thelhald, contrary 
to God's prohibition and the 
dignity of a Christian, con- 
trary also to the custom of 
all the pagans, ascended his 
father's bed, and married 
Judith, daughter of Charles, 
king of the Pranks, and drew 
down much infamy unon 
himself from all who heard of 


During two years and a half 

of licentiousness after his 

father he held the government 

of the West^Saxons. 

CHARTERS ib 858. ^.thil- 
bebht king of Kent. II, 64. 

When five years were com- 

A. 859. 

ANNALS. Anmo 8fi9. This year it 
began to freeze two dayi before the 
calends of December [Nov. 29] and 
ended on tbe nones of April [af. 5]. 

CHARTERS in 859. Plxobed 
subscribed also by " Ethelwulf rex.** 
** Ethelbeald fili. legis," and others. 

A. 860. 

Here died king jEthelhnld 
and his body ues at Sher- 

And iEthelbryht 

succeeded to all the realm of 

his brother, and he held it in 

goodly concord and in great 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 860, which was the 
twelfth from kins Alfred's 
birth, died iEthelbald, 
and was 
buried at Sherborne. 


brother .ZBthelberht, as was 

fitting, joined Kent, Surrey, 

and Sussex also to his 


king Ethelbald died. 

and his brother .£thelbyrht 

succeeded to the possessions 

of both. 

And in his days In his days a large army of In his days a large fleet of 

a large fleet came to land, pagans, cnmc up from the pagans came to land, and 

860 /bmrr 

PROM A. D 849 TO 901. 



12 His 

son ^thelbald, contrary 
to God's prohibition and the 
dignity of a Christian, con- 
trary also to the custom of 
lU the pagans, ascended hb 
&ther*s bed, and married 
Jndith, daughter of Charles, 

kmg of the Franks, and 

The afore aid most noble 
king left to his son Ethelbald 
the hereditary kingdom of 
Wessex. To his son Ethelbert 
he left the kingdom of Kent 
and Essex and Sussex. Both 
the brothers therefore, youths 
of the best disposition, ruled 
happily their kingdom, whilst 
each lived, 

MATT. WESTM. In the year of 

Grace 858. died Ethelbald 

bUhop of Lichfield, to whom tue- 
oeeded Humbert. 

son Ethelbald, in spite of the 
prohibition of Jesus Christ, 
and contrary to the custom 
of all the pagans, ascended 
his father's bed, and took to 
wife, with great infamy, 
Judith daughter of Charles 
king of the Franks, and thus 

13 during two years and a half When Adelbald lawless, for two years and a 

of licentiousness after his king of Wessex had held his half, he held the helm of the 

father heheld the government kingdom in peace five years, West^Saxons, after the death 

of the West-Saxons, of his noble father. 


MATT. WESTM. In the year of 
Grace 859. Ethelbald king of the 
West-Saxons, growing wise out of 
bis error aforesaid, dismissed Judith 

his step-mother, whose bed he had 
polluted, and having done penance, 
governed his kingdom with peace 
and Justice, for the rest of his life; 


Died iEthelbald king 

and was 
buried at Sherborne. 


brother Ethelbert, as was 

fitting, joined Rent, Surrey, 

and Sussex also to his 


In his days a large army of 
pagans^ came up from the 

he was cut off by an early 
death :• all England mourned 
the youth of king Adelbald, 
and great woe was made for 
him. They buried him at 
Sherborne, and England 
afterwards felt how much it 

had lost in him. 

Adelbricht the brother of the 

aforesaid king, reigned after 

him over Wessex, who before 

was king of Kent. 

In his days 
a naval host, 


In the year 860, the 12th 
after the birth of the noble 
prince Elfred, Ethelbald died 
and was buried in Sherborne. 

After his death his brother 
Ethelbyrht added these pro- 
vinces to his own kingdom; 
that is Kent, Surrey and 
Sussex, with all their towns 
and territories, as was fitting. 
In the course of that year, 
a great army of pagans, com- 



and the crews stormed Win- 
chester. And alderman Osric 
with the men of Hampshire, 
and alderman iEthelwulf 
with the men of Berkshire, 
fought against the army, and 
put them to flight, and had 
possession of the place of 

sea, and attacked and des- 
troyed the city of Winchester. 
As they were returning laden 
with booty 'to their ships, 
Osric, earl of Hampshire, 
with his men, and earl Mih- 
elwulf, with the men of 
Berkshire^ confronted them 
bravely ; a severe battle took 
place, and the pagans were 
slain on every side; and, 
finding themselves unable to 
resist, they took flight like 
women, and the Christians 
were masters of the place of 

CUieliDert 860 

destroyed the royal city which 
is call^ Winton. They were 
encountered by Osric duke of 
Hampshire^ and Athulf duke 
of Berkshire : a battle ensued ; 
the pagans were routed, and 
the English gained the vie^ 

CHARTERS ik 860. 1. jEthbl- 
BB&BT of Westex, subccribed also by 
** iEthelred Alius regis," aod others. 
II, 68. 2. ifiTBELBALDkingof Wes- 
sex, signed also by " ^thelberht 
rex,"" Judith regis filius [»ic MS.]," 
and others. 11.69. 3. A third charter, 
subscribed by ** ifiTBELBEAKHT 
rex,", " jEthelred fill, regis," " El- 
flraed fill, regis," and others, without 
a date, is givenjin II, 70, as belonging 
to either 860. 861, or 862. 

^2) A. 8(ii. 

CHARTERS in 861 : none. 

(4) A. 8(i2. 

(3) Here died S. Swithun tha 

As St Swithin is such a well-known 
personage, the following notice of 
STER, may amuse some of my 

•" In the year of Grace 862, Saint 
B within, bishop of the dly of Win- 
chester, departed to the Lord. This 
holy man. whilst he still lived, was 
the possessor of many virtues, but 
was roost famous for mildness and 
kumility. It happened once, that 
.this servant of God was sitting 
bv chance with the workmen at Win- 
chester bridge, that his presence 

might stir them into activitv: 
when lo, a woman carrying eggs for 
sale passed by on her way to the city. 
The workmen all ran round her, 
making fun, as men of that kind oft- 
en do, and broke all her eggs for her. 
When the news of this shameful deed 
and the poor woman's complaint 
reached the bishop's ears, he sighed at 
her loss, and moved to kindness, 
made the sign of the cross over the 
broken eggs, whereby they all became 
whole again. Of the humble-mind- 
ednesB of this holy man, it is a 
memorable example, thai, as often 
as he was about to dedicate a new 
church-building, he always went thi- 
ther on foot, and not on a horse or in 
a carriage, however long the Journey 
might be. And that this might not 
furnish ridicule to the ignorant, or 
be set down by the proud for vain 
glory, he used to withdraw himself 
from the sight of men, and travel al- 

ways by night. He was a lover of 
solitary holiness and thought that he 
should sacrifice his interesu to any 
external show. At length, when he 
was on the point of bidding farewell 
to this present life, he commanded 
his domestics, on their obedience to 
his episcopal authority, to bury his 
body outside the church, where ft 
might be trodden under the feet of 
passers-by, and vetted by the dew 
from heaven. His successor in the 
bishopric was Ealferth. a man suffi- 
ciently learned in church matters, 
who for sdm6 tim« had Wisely fulfil- 
led the duties for his predecessor : 

(5) A. 863. 

6) A. 864. 
8 Here the heathen army sat 
down in Thanet, and made 
peace with the men of Kent, 
and the men of Kent pro- 
mised them money for the 
peace ; and during the peace 

2 In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 864, the pagans 
wintered in the isle of Thanet, 
and made a firm treaty with 
the men of Kent, who pro- 
mised them money for adher- 
ing to their covenant; but 

After four years, from the 
death of king iEthelbald, the 
pagans stren^hen their 
position in the isle of Thanet, 
and promise to be at peace 
with the men of Kent, who 
on their part prepare money 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


864 fimut 

tea, and attacked and det- 
troyed the city of Winchester. 
Ai they were returning laden 
with mwty to their ships, 
Osric. eari of Hampshire, 
with his men, and earl Mth- 
dulf^ with the men of 
Berkshire, confronted them 
bravely; a severe battle took 
place, and the pagans were 
slain on every side, and, 
finding tliemseives unable to 
resist, they took flif ht like 
women, and the Christians 
were masters of the place of 


landing destroyed Winches- 
ter : and so 

An ancient city fell 
That many years had ruled. 

Then duke Osric with [the 

men of] Hamptonshire, and 

duke Edelwlf with [the men 

of] Berkshire, fought against 

the same army; and, when 

they had put them to flight 

with great slaughter, our men 

were victorious. 

ing from the sea, assaulted 
and destroyed the city of 
Winchester. But when the 
aforesaid army was on its way 
back to the ships, loaded with 
booty, Osric the worthy leader 
of the men of Hampshire, 
came up with his people, and 
the good earl Ethelwlf with 
the men of Berkshire, man- 
fully met them with an im- 
mense army, and joining bat- 
tle, the pagans were slain on 
all sides by the English, who 
were aided by the angelic 

And when the dreadful ene- 
mies were unable to stand 
any longer for their wounds, 
a ffreat multitude cruelly fell, 
others hid themselves among 
the thick bushes, and some 
like women, took to flight. 
The English, with fortune 
smiling upon them, were mas. 
ters of the field of death. 

(2) 861. 

MATT. WESTM. In the year of 
Grace 861, . . . died Rethun bishop 
of Leicester, to whom sdcceedea 

(3) 862. Saint Swithin took 
his flight to heaven, the 1 0th 
Indietion, sixth before the 
of July [July 2] the 
6th day of the week. 

CHARTERS IN 862. I. .Ethkl. 
red: subs, by Alfred flrater regis 
and others. 11. 71. 2. Ethelbert 
king of Wessex : subscribed also by 
•• iEtherred fil. regis." " Alfred fll. 
regis" and others. II, 73. 

(4) 863. 

CHARTERS IM 863. 3, Ethel- 
Bert, subscribed also by Ethered fil. 
reg. and others, II, 74. 2. A charter 

of 'Edward king of Merda, &c. 
at 11, 77, belongs to 860—865. 

(5) 804. 

The pagans 
wintered in the isle of Thanet, 
and made a firm treaty with 
the men of Kent, who pro- 
mised them money for adher- 

In the 5th 
year of king Adelbrict, the 
army of the pagans came to 
Tenet ; and, when the men of 
Kent had purchased of them 
a truce with money, they 
suddenly broke away one 

In the year 864, the pagans 
wintered in the island wliich 
is called Thanet, and is sur- 
rounded on every side by the 

stream of tne sea. 
They made a solemn treaty 
with tlie men of Kent, who 



Sorot Cl)r0tti(lt 

and the promise of money 

the army stole away by night, 

and ravaged all Kent to the 


MATT. WESTM. In the year of 
Grace 864, died Humbert bishop of 
Lichfield, to whom succeeded Kine- 

the pagans, like cimning 
foxes, burst from their camp 
by night, and setting at 
naught their engagements 
and spuming at the promised 
money, whicli they knew was 
less than they could get by 
plunder, they ravaged all the 
eastern coast of Kent. 

CU^aiDtrt 865 

ignorant of the future. But 
the Danes break their com- 

{>act, and sallying out privi- 
y by night, lay waste all 
the eastern coast of Kent. 

CHARTERS IN 864. Bueoked 
of Mercia, July 25. subscribed also by 
" iEthelswythreglna." II, 79. 

(7) A. 865. 

CHARTERS in 865. none. 

ANNATE. ANNO 865. The Normans 

came into Fraice In the middle of 


(9) A. 866. 

1 And ^thelbryht reigned 

live years, and his body lies 

at Sherburne. 

CHARTERS IN 8C6. 1. Buao- 
Mso king of Mercia. subscribed also 
liy " Athelswyth regina" and others. 
II, 80. 2. Another of BunoaEO, 
^thelswyth and others, II, 81. 3. 
A charter of Ealhhekk, [II, 83] 
very mutilated and imperfect, is 
refered to some period between 860 
and 866. 

Here iEthered, iEthelbyrht's 
brother, succeeded to the 
kingdom of the West-Saxons. 

And the same year a great 
heathen army came to the 
land of the English nation, 
and took up their winter 
quarters among the Cast- 
Angles, and there were 
horsed ; and the East-Angles 
made peace with them. 

• Dk Dandbio or-BiA is probably 
a corruption of Ds Dania " from 

1 iEthelberht governed his 
kingdom five years in peace, 
with the love and respect of 
his subjects, who felt deep 
sorrow when he went the way 
of all flesh. His body was 
honourably interred at Sher- 
borne by the side of hit 

After one year king iEthel- 

byrht died, and his body rests 

peaceably in the monastery 

named Sherborne. 

In the year of our Lord*s 
incarnation 866, which was 
the eighteenth of king Alfred, 
iEthelred, brother of iEthel- 
bert, king of the West Saxons, 
undertook the government of 

the kingdom. 

And the same 
year a lar^ fleet of pagans 
came to Britain from the 
Danube,* and wintered in 
the kingdom of the Eastern- 
Saxons, which is called in 
Saxon East-Anglia ; and 
there they became principally 
an army of cavalry. 

Chap. II. Of the rbion op 


Ethered succeeded to the 

throne after the death of his 

brother Ethelbyrht. 

In the same year the fleets of 
the tyrant Ingware arrived 
in England from the north, 
and wintered among the East 
Angles, and having establish- 
ed their arms there, they get 
on their horses, and make 
peace with all the inhabitants 
in the neighbourhood. 

But, to speak in nautical phrase, I will no longer commit 
my vessel to the power of the waves and of its sails, or 
keeping off from land steer my round-about course through 
so many calamities of wars and series of ^^ears, but will 
return to that which first promoted me to this task ; that is 
to say, 1 think it right in this place briefly|to relate as^mucb 
as has come to my knowledge about the character of my 
revered lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, diuring the 
years that he was an infant and a boy. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


866 fismct ^ 

ing to their covenant; but 
the pagans, like cunning 
foxes, burst from their camp 
by night, and tettinff at 

naught the promised 

money, which they knew was 

leas than they could get by 

plunder, they ravaged all the 

eastern coast of Kent. 



night, and plundered the 
eastern parts of Kent. 

promised to pay them money , 
if they should keep the treaty. 
But in the mean time, break' 
ing forth secretly by night 
from their camp, like foxes, 
and violating the truce, and 
despising the promise of 
money, they remained quiet tor a few days. But, oh 
horrible ! they devastated the eastern coast of the Ken- 
tish people. They knew that they should get greater 
money by stolen booty than 
by peace : as also it 

(6) 8e5. 

(7) 866. 

1 ^thelbert governed his 
kingdom five years in peace, 
with the love and respect of 
his subjects, who felt deep 
sorrow when he went the way 
of all flesh. His body was 
honourably interred at Sher- 
bom by the side of his 

£the1red, brother of ^thel- 

bert king of the West-Saxons, 

undertook the government of 

the kingdom. 

And the same 
year a large fleet of pagans 
came to Britain from the 
Danube,* and wintered in 
the kingdom of the Eastern- 
Angles, which is called in 
Saxon East- Anglia ; and 
there they became principally 
an army of cavalry. 

t This rnoUee of Alfred'i early 
[B occurs in Florence under 871, 
is placed here in juxta-poiition 
with Alter and Simeon. 


The same year, when Adel* 
brict had reigned five years 
over Wessex, and ten years 
over Kent, he tasted death. 
After him Adelred his brother 
received the insignia of the 

This year there came into the 
country of the Enelish a very 
large army of the pagans, 
whose leaders were Hinguar 
and Ubba, very brave but 
very cruel men. Hineuar 
was a man of great talent, 
but Ubba was a man of won- 
derful bravery. 
Passing the winter among 
the East- Angles, they receiv- 
ed from them a truce and 
horses, and for the sake of 
peace spared their strength 
for a while. 

t I think in right in this place briefly to relate 
about his [ALFaEo's] character 

during the 
years that he was an infant and a boy. 

Thus king Ethelbyrht, for 
five years, peacefully, amia- 
bly, and honorably ruled 
the kingdom that had been 
intrusted to him ; and it was 
to the great grief of his 
princes, bishops, and all his 
people, that he went the way 
of all flesh : leaving the 
government of his earthly 
kingdom, he began to be a 

partaker of the other. 
2 He was buried near his bro- 
ther in Sherborne, where he 
awaits the comfort of a future 
In the following year, that 
is 866, which was the 18th 
since the birth of Elfred, 
Ethelred the brother of Ethel- 
byrt king of the West-Saxons, 
undertook the government of 

the kingdom. 
In the same year a great fleet 
of pagans from Dlmubia 
entered the borders of Bri- 
tain, and so wintered on the 
kingdom of the £astern-An- 
glia, which is called in the 
Saxon tongue East^angle, 
and there the large army 
became cavalry, riding and 
scouring here and there, 
carrying off an enormous 
booty, and sparing neither 
men nor women, widows nor 

In these days the prince £1- 
fred began with sweet medi- 
tttion to be imbued with 



3trat (VftrntU 


O^eliperl 860 

He was beloved by his father and mother, and even by all 
the people, above all his brothers, and was educated alto- 

§ ether at the court of the king. As he advanced through 
le years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more 
comely than that of his brothers ; in look, in speech, and in 
manners he was more c^aceful than they. His noble 
nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom 
above all things ; but, with shame be it spoken, by the un- 
worthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained 
illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more ; but he 
lutened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he 
often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile 
memory. He was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its 
branches, and hunted with great assiduity and success ; for 
skill and good fortune in this art, as in all others, are among 

the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed. 
On a certain day, therefore, his mother was showing him 
and his brothers* a Saxon book of poetry which she held in 
her hand, and said, *' Whichever of you shall the soonest 
learn this volume shall have it for his own." Stimulated 
bv these words, or rather by the Divine inspiration, and 
allured by the beautifully illuminated letter at the beginning 
of the volume, he spoke before all his brothers, who, though 
his seniors in age, were not so in grace, and answered, 
** Will you really give that book to one of us, that is to say, 
to him who can first understand and repeat it to you ? " At 
this his mother smiled with satisfaction, and confirmed what 
she had before said. Upon which the boy took the book 
out of her hand, and went to his master to read it, and in 

due time brought it to his mother and recited it. 
After this he learned the daily course, that is, the cele- 
bration of the hours, and afterwards certain psalms, and 
several prayers, contained in a certain book which he kept 
day and night in his bosom, as we ourselves have seen, and 
carried about with him to assist his prayers, amid all the 
bustle and business of this present life. But sad to say ! 
he 'could not gratify his most ardent wish to learn the liberal 
arts, because, as he said, there were no eood readers at that 

time in all the kingdom of the West-Saxons. 
This he confessed, with many lamentations and sighs, to 
have been one of his greatest difficulties and impediments 
in this life, namely, that when he was young and had the 
capacity for learning, he could not find teachers ; but, when 
he was more advanced in life, he was harassed by so many 
diseases unknown to all the physicians of this island, as well 
as b)^intemal and external anxieties of sovereignty, and by 
continual invasions of the pagans, and had his teachers and 
writers also so much disturbed, that there was no time for 
reading. But yet amonff the impediments of this present 
life, from infancy up to the present time, and, as I believe, 
even until his death, he continued to feel the same insatiable 
desire of knowledge, and still aspires after it. 

• Rather Tito brother/ for in 861, 
when Alfred wm 12 years old, EtheU 
bert was King. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


866 /Urrvr 


He was beloved by his father and mother, and even by all 
the people, above all his brothers, and was educated alto- 
gether at the court of the king. As he advanced through 
the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more 
comely than that of his brothers ; in look, in speech, and in 
manners he was more graceful than they. 
But, with shame be it spoken, by the un- 
worthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained 
illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more ; but he 
listened with serious attention to tne Saxon poems which he 
often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile 
He practised hunting in all its 
branches, with great assiduity and success ; 
as in all the other 
gifts of God. 
On a certain day, therefore, his mother was showing him 
and his brothers a Saxon book of poetry, which she held in 
her hand, and said, ** Whichever of you shall the soonest 
leam this volume shall have it for his own." Stimulated 
bv these words, or rather by the Divine inspiration, and 
sUured bv the beautifully illuminated letter at tne beginning 
of the volume, he spoke before all his brothers, who though 
his seniors in age, were not so in grace, and answered, 
** Wfll you really give that book to one of us, that is to say, 
to him who can first understand and repeat it to you? " At 
this his mother smiled with satisfaction, and confirmed what 
she had before said. Upon which the boy took the book 
out of her hand, and went to his master to read it, and in 

dae time brought it to his mother and recited it. 
After this he learned the daily course, that is, the cele- 
bration of the hours and afterwards certain psalms, and 
•e? eral prayers, conuined in a certain book which he kept 

day and night in his bosom, and 
carried about with him to assist his prayers, amid all the 
bustle and business of this present life. But sad to say! 
be could not gratify his most ardent wish to leam the liberal 
arts, because, as he said, there were no food readers at that 
time in all the kingdom of the West-Saxons. 


heavenly doctrines; he was 
loved from his cradle by his 
father and mother with a 
wonderful love beyond all 
his brothers. Lastly, as his 
stature encreased diuring his 
youthful age, his fonn seemed 
more comely than his other 
brothers, and he shone alike 
remarkable in his counte- 
nance and in his graceful 
speech. As the sti^ thirsts 
for the water, so did he thirst 
that his inmost soul should 
be satiated, and his bosom 
be imbued with heavenly 
learning. But, oh shame ! 
by the carelessness of his 
parents and attendants he 
remained illiterate even to 
the twelfth year of his age. 
The glorious young man and 
future king studied day and 
night to leam the Saxon 
poems, and was easy to be 
Uught, industrious in the art 
of hunting, and incomparable 

in every perfection. 
On a certain day, therefore, 
his worthy mother was show- 
ing him and his brothers a 
Saxon book of poetry, which 
she held in her hand, and 
said, " Whichever of you 
shall the soonest leam this 
volume shall have it for his 
own." Stimulated by the 
Divine inspiration, and allur- 
ed by the beautifuUy illumi- 
nated letter at the beginning 
of the volume, he answered 
his mother, " Will you really 
eive that book?" At that 
his mother smiled with satis- 
faction, and confirmed what 
she had before said. Upon 
which the boy took the book 
out of her hand, and went to 
his master, shewed the book 
and read it, his teacher shew- 
ing him how to read it, and 
in due time brought it to his 

mother and recited it 
His mother gave boundless 
thanks to the goodness of the 
Saviour, seeing that the grace 
of God was in the mind of her 
After this inflamed with the divine love, he leamed cer- 
tain psalms, and the daily course, that is, the celebration 
of the hours, contained in a certain book which he kept 
day and night in his bosom, and carried about with him. 


3ar(m (f^roirffU ^mt (tttitlmtxi 866 

A. 867. 

Here the army went from 
East-Anglia over Humber- 
mouth to Eoforwic-chester 
[York] in North-humbria. 

And there was much dis- 
sension among that 'people, 
and they had cast out their 
king Osbrvht, and had taken 
to themselves a king, iElla, 
of unkingly blood ; but late 
in the year thev resolved that 
they would fight against the 
army; and there&re they 
gathered a large force, and 
sought the army at the town 
of York, and stormed the 
town, and some of them got 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 867, which was 
the nineteenth of the life of 
the aforesaid king Alfred, 
the army of pagans before 
mentioned removed from the 
East-Angles to the city of 
York, which is situated on 
the north bank of the river 

At that time a violent discord 
arose, by the instigation of 
the devil, amon? the inhabi- 
tants of Northnmberland ; 
as always is used to happen 
among a people who nave 
incurred the wrath of God. 
For the Northumbrians at 
that time, as we have said, 
had expelled their lawful 
king Osbert, and appointed 
a certain tyrant namea MWa, 
not of royal birth, over the 
afTairs of the kingdom ; but 
when the pagans approached, 
by divine Providence, and 
the union of the nobles for 
the common ^ood, that dis- 
cord was a little appeased, 
and Osbert and JE\\& uniting 
their resources, and assembl- 
ing an army, marched to 
York. The pagans fled at 
their approach, and attempts 
ed to defend themselves 
within the walls to the city. 
The Christians, perceiving 
their flight and the terror 
they were in, determined to 

pursue them into the 
town and destroy its walls; 
which they succeeded in 
doing ; for that city was not 
surrounded at that time with 
firm or strong walls : and 

After one year that army, 
leaving the eastern parts, 
crossed the river Humber 
into Northumberland to the 
city of Evorac, which is now 
commonly called the city of 
Eoferwic [York], 

For there was then a great 
civil dissension between the 
inhabitants of that land, and 
they were so enraged that 
they also expelled their king 
Osbyrht from his seat ; ana 
having confirmed their re- 
solves, they chose an obscure 
person for their king; and 
after some delay they turned 
their thoughts to raise an 
army and repulse those who 
were advancing. They collec- 
ted together no small bodies 
of troops, and reconnoitred 
the enemy : their rage was 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


867 JUmui 

O happy race of men ! O 
prudent king ! you carry the 
key of wisdom, you love wis- 
dom, and shall be wise, 
doing judgment and justice 
upon the earth ! Clerks, at- 
tend and see how your king 
carries the book in his bosom 
day and night, whilst you 
neither know nor wish to 
know the law of God. The 
same man, when he became 
king, lamented to himself that 
he had not been educated in 
the libera] arts. 


The army of pagans before 
ioned i 

i remored from the 
Eati-Anffles to the city of 
York, which is situated on 
Ike nofih bank of the river 


In the second year of king 
Adelred, the aforesaid army, 
led by Hineuar and Ubba, 
came into Morthurobria* at 
Eoverwic [York] ; 

In the year 867, the 19th 
from the birth of king Elfred, 
the aforesaid army of pagans 
removed from tne Eastern 
Angles to the city of York, 
which lies on the northern 
bank of the river Humber. 

At that time a violent discord 
iroee, by the instigation of 
the devn, amon^ the inhabi- 
taate of Northumberland ; 
M always u used to happen 
MMng a people who nave 
incaiTed the wrath of God. 
For the Northumbrians at 
that time, as we have said, 
bad expelled their lawful 
Iciiig Otbriht, and appointed 
a certain tyrant named uElla, 
not of royal birth, over the 
a&tn of the kingdom ; but 
vhen the pa^ns approached, 
by divine Providence, and 
the union of the nobles for 
the common good, that dis- 
cord was a little appeased, 
and Osbrihtand iElla uniting 
their resources, and assem- 
bling an army, marched to 
York. The pagans fled at 
their approach, and attempt- 
ed to defend themselves 
within the walls of the city. 
The Christians, perceiving 
their flight and the terror 
they were in, determined to 
deiiroy the walls of the town, 
which they succeeded in 
doing ; for that city was not 
surrounded at that time with 
firm or strong walls, and 

and there 
was among the people of that 
country a great dbcord, with 
the usual treachery, because 
they had cast off Uieir kin? 
Osbrict, and had received 
another king, a degenerate 

man named EUan : and 
therefore, having slowly come 
to an agreement, and assem- 
bled an army, they came to 
Eoverwic [York], in which 
the pagan army was; and, 
having broken down the wall 
they rushed in and fought 
with them. 

CHARTERS IN 867. Ethrlbed 
»r Wenex, at Canterbury, tubKrib- 
ed by forty others. 11 , 83. 

At the same time a great dis- 
cord was kindled between the 
people of Northumberland, 
and most aptly ; for he who 

loves hatred shall find it. 
For the Northumbrians ait 

that time, 
had expelled their lawful king 

and appointed a certain 
tyrant named JEUa, over the 
aifairs of the kingdom; but 
when the pagans approached, 
by divine Providence, and 
the union of the nobles for 
the common good, that dis- 
cord was a little appeased, 
and Osbert and JEHa. uniting 
their resources, and assembl- 
ing an army, marched to 
York. The pagans fled at 
their approach, and the 
Christians perceiving 

their flight and the terror 
they were in, proved them- 
selves stronger tlian they. 



Saron C^ronirlt 

within, and there was an 
excessive slaughter made of 
the North-humbrians, some 
within some without, and 
the kings were both slain : 
and the remainder made 
peace with the army. 

" King Osbert, during a residence 
at York, went out one dajr to hunt in 
a forest not far distant from the city, 
and on his return called at the bouse 
of Bruern Brocard, one of his princi- 
pal nobles, to refresh himself, aftei> 
the fatigues of the day. Bruern, 
knowing nothing of the king's com- 
ing, was gone down to the sea-side 
to secure the coast against pirates : 
and his wife, who was a lady of in- 
comparable beauty, and adorned with 
all the accomplishments which be- 
long to her seiL< entertained the king 
at dinner with due hospitality and 
splendour. Osbert was charmed with 
her beauty and her behaviour: as 
soon as dinner was over, he pretend- 
ed some secret business of great i;:i- 
Sortance, and, attended to the door 
y some of his own servants, who 
were privy to his design, he led her 
to a private apartment, inhere he 
treated her with violence, and com- 
mitted a shameful breach of the faith 
which had been reposed in him. 
Having thus had his will, he return- 
ed to York, whilst the lady, whom he 

when the Christians had 
made a breach as they had 
purposed, and many of them 
had entered into the town, 
the pagans, urged by despair 
and necessity, made a fierce 
sally upon them, slew them, 
routed them, and cut them 
down on all sides, both within 

and without the walls. 
In that battle fell almost all 
the Northumbrian warriors, 
with both the kings and a 
multitude of nobles; the 
remainder, who escaped, 
made peace with the pagans. 

had abused, lamented so bitterly, that 
her face was sore with weeping. Her 
husband, ui^on his return, asked the 
cause of so sudden a change, and 
such unusual sadness : upon which 
she told him all that had happened 
to her by the violence of the king. 
When she had finished the story, hei 
husband comforted her, and bade 
her not to afflict herself, since he 
assured her, that because she had 
told him the truth, he would not love 
her less than he had done before; 
and, by God's good pleasure, would 
revenge both himself and her for the 
wrong which had been done them. 

And the same year bishop 
Ealchstan died ; and he had 
the bishopric of Shirebume 
fifty years, and his body lies 
there in the town. 

In the same year, Ealhstan, 
bishop of the church of 
Sherborne, went the way of 
all flesh, after he had hon- 
ourably ruled his see four 
years, and he was buried at 

(ttiftimni 867 

excited : they joined battle, 
a miserable slaughter took 
place on both sides, and the 
kings were slain ^ Those of 
them who were left made 
peace with the hostile army. 

Immediately after this he sent for 
all his relations and friends, to whom 
he revealed the affront which had 
been put upon him, and his inten- 
tion to take speedy vengeance for 
the same. To this they all conten- 
ted, and approving his design, tooh 
horse, and rode with him to York. 
The king, when he saw him, invited 
him in civil terms to draw near ; but 
Bruern, having all his relatione at 
his back, defied the king, and re- 
nounced his allegiance, giving up 
all his lands and whatsoever else 
he held of him. This done, with- 
out any more words, Bruern wlUi* 
drew, making no stay at all at court. 
Taking leave of his friends, he sailed 
straightway into Denmark, where 
he made a complaint to Codrin, 
king of the country, of the affront 
offered to him and his wife by 
Osbert, and desired his speedy sue- 
cour, that he might be in a condi- 
tion to take vengeance for the injury. 
Codrin and the Danes were rejoiced 
at this event, which gave them a 
sufficient excuse to invade Eng- 
land, that they might avenge the 
wrongs of Bruern, who was descend- 
ed from their blood." 

In the same year died Eanulf, 
duke of Somerset ; also bishop 
Ealhstan, fifty years after hu 
succession to the bishopric, 
in the diocese called Shei«> 
borne. There also his body 
now reposes; and that of 
the above-named duke in the 
monastery called Glaston^ 

A. 868. 


CHARTER.SIK 868. 1. Ethsl- 
»ED king of Weftsex Sec. II, 86. ?. 
Cialulf: subscribed by '♦JEthered 
rex and others. II, 87. s 
BuaoRED of Mercia, August 1, sub- 
scribed by Ethelredus rex West- 
Saxonis, Alfredus frater regis West- 
SaxonisB Edmundus rex West-Ang- 
H» [a mistake for East-Anglije] and 
others, II, 89. 4. Ethklswith, 
subscribed also by •• ^thelred rex 
Occidentalium Saxonum," '* JFAtrod 
tthier regis.'* " Burgred rex Merci- 
orum " and others. II, 94 

Am Kb So8. 

A JTtMt 

In the year of our Lord's 

incarnation 868, which was After one year therefore, the 
the twentieth of king Alfred's 
The aforesaid revered 
king Alfred, but at that time 
occupying a subordinate 
station, asked and obtained 
in marriage a noble Mercian 
lady, daughter of jEthelred, 
sumamed Mucil,* earl of 

the Oaini.f 
The mother of this lady was 
named Edburga, of the ruyal 
line of Mercia, whom we 
have often seen with our 
own eyes a few years before 

her death. 
She was a venerable lady, 

and after the decease of her husband, she remained many 
years a widow, even till her pWn death. 

* L e. IficKLx, • the Bia.' 
t Hence Gainsboeovob. 

FROM A. D« 849 TO 901. 


668 /Imtrtft 

when the Christians had 
made a breach as the? had 
purpoeed, and many of them 
had entered into Uie town, 

along with the enemy, 
the pagans, urged by despair 
and necessity, made a fierce 
sally upon them, slew them, 
routed them, and cut them 
down on all sides, both within 

and without the walls. 
In that battle fell almost all 
the Northumbrian warriors^ 
with both the kines and a 
multitude of nobles; the 
remainder, who escaped, 
made peace with the pagansi 

There were slain 
both kings, Osbrict and iElla 
and a numberless multitude 
of the Northumbrian nation^ 
within the city and without ; 
and those who remained, 
made truoe with the pagans* 

They fought cruelly on both 

sides, and both the Kings fell. 

The rest who escaped made 

peace with the Danes. 

If ATT. WBSTM. In the y«ar of 
Once 867 Tben the wick«d con- 
querors, the Danes, plundering the 
whole province of Northumbria up 
to the mouth of the river Tvne, hav- 
ing conquered their enemies, made 
the countrj subject to themselves. 
The Northumbrian kings being slain, 
one Egbert, an Englishman by birth, 
gained the kingdom subject to the 
Danes, and held it 6 years. 

In the aame year, fialhstan, 
bishop of the church of 
Sheroume, went the way of 
all flesh, after he had non- 
oorably ruled his see four 
years, and he was buried at 

l^his year died bishop Ales- 
tan ; he was buried at Sher- 
borne, where he was bishop 
50 years. 

In that same year Ealhstan, 
bishop of the churc^h of Sher- 
borne, left the course of this 
earthly life, when he had 
honourably ruled his bis- 
hopric for fifty years : he 
rests in the peace of the 
church, being decently buried 
in his episcopal see. 


A comet-star was seen most 
plainly this year. 

Tlte aforesaid revered 
king Alfred, but at that time 
occupying a subordinate 
station, asked and obtained 
in marriage a noble Mercian 
lady, daughter of iEthelred, 
sumamed Mucil, earl of 

the Qaini. 
The mother of this lady was 
named Eadbiurg, of the royal 

line of Mercia. 
She was a venerable lady, 
and after the decease of her 
husband, she remained many 
years a widow, even till her 

own death. 

In the year 868, which was 
the 20th of king Elfred, he 
took a wife out of Mercia, to 
wit a lady of noble birth, 
daughter of Ethelred earl of 
the Gaini, who was sumamed 
" Mucel" by the English, be- 
cause he was great in body 
and old in wisdom. 



Here the same Army went 
into Mercia to Snotengaham 
£Nottinouam], and there 
took up their winter settle- 

In the tame year, the above- 
named army of pagans, leav- 
ing Northumberland, invad- 
ed Mercia end advanced to 
Nottingham, which is called 
in the British tongue, ** Tig- 
gocobauc,'' but in Latin^ the 
** House of Caves," and they 
wintered there that same 

Ct^amt 868 

army of the pagans, of whose 
arrival we have spoken 
above, measured out their 
^mp in a nlaoe called Snot- 
inganam [Nottimoham], and 
there they passed the winter. 

And Burgrffid king ol the immediately on their ap- And Burhred king of the 
Mercians, and his witan, p^oach, Burhred, king of 

l>egffed of Ethered king of 
Che West-Saxons, and Alfred 
his brother, that they would 
help them, that they might 
fight against the army. 

And then they went with the 
West-Saxon power into Mer- 
cia as far as Nottingham, 
and there met with the army 
within the fortress; and 
besieged them therein : but 
there was no great battle; 
and the Mercians made peace 
with the army. 

Mercia, and all the nobles 
of that nation, sent messen- 
gers to iEthered, king of the 
West-Saxons, and lus brother 
JEMredy suppliantly entreat- 
ing them to come and aid 
them in fighting against the 

aforesaid army^ 
Their request was easily 
obtained; for the brothers^ 
as soon as promised^ assembled 
an immense army from all 
parts of their dommions, and 
entering Mercia, came to 
Nottmgnam, all eager for 
battle, and when the pagans, 
defended by the castle, re- 
fused to Hght, and the Chris- 
tians were imable to destroy 
the wall, peace was made 
between the Mercians and 
pagans, and the two brothers 
iEthelred and iElfred, return- 
ed home with their troops^ 

Mercians, with his nobles, 

consented to their remaining 

there without reproach. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

868 Jlmrn 

In the same year, the above* 
named anny of pagans, leav- 
ing Northumbenand, invad- 
ed Mercia and advanced to 
Snotingaham, which is called 
in the JBrisiBh tongue, " Tig- 
goocobauc," but in Latin, the 
" House of Caves," and they 
wintered there that same 

Immediately on their ap- 
proach, Burhred, king of 


Merda, and all the nobles 
of that nation, sent messen- 
gers to ^tbered, king of the 
West-Saxons, and his brother 
JElfred, suppliantly entreat- 
ing them to come and aid 
ibem in fighting against the 

aforesaid army. 
Their request was easily 
obtained ; for the brothers, as 
soon as promised, assembled 
an immense army from all 
parts ol their dominions, and 
enterine Mercia, came to 
Notdngliam, all eager for 
battle, and when the pagans, 
defended by the castle, re- 
fused to fight, and the Chria- 
tians were unable to desteoy 
the wall, peace was made 
between the Mercians and 
ptcans, and the two brothers 
iEUielred and iElfred, return- 
ed home with their troops. 

Ring Adelred, in the third 
year of his reini, went to 
Snotingham [Nottinoham] 
with ms brother Alfred to 
help Burhred king of Mercia : 
for the aforesaid army had 
come to Nottingham, and 
was there in the winter. 


At that time the aforesaid 
army of pagans, leaving the 
Northumbrians, went on an 
unlucky visit to the city of 
Snotingham, which is called 
Tignocebanc in the British 
tongue, but in a Latin transla- 
tion means the House of 
Caves. Here these insidious 
strangers wintered that same 
year ; and their coming was 
sufficiently unpleasing to all 
the people. The warlike 
kin^ of tne Mercians, named 
Burnred, and all his nobles 
took council with his earls 
and fellow-soldiers and all 
the people under him, how 
he should vanquish the ene- 
mies by valour in battle, and 
drive them out of the 

He also sent swift messengers 
to Elf red that man of brilli- 
ant valour, and to Ethelred 
his brother, that they should 
render him brotherly help 
whereby they might conquer 
the enemy with victorious 
bravery: which they, like 
dauntless lions, did not delay 

to do. 
Then Elfred, roused to action, 
begins with rapid orders to 
call together his army, recol- 
lecting this within his 
bosom : 

He who hath a craven mind 
And holds himaelf as mean or poor, 

Within his breast will nev^r find 
Hie heart to aim at golden store. 

A man who is fearful, and 
thinks himself needy or 
wretched, never fulfils what 
he longs for, unless he is 
brave in aiming at what he 
desires. His brother was 
kindled with like fury, and 
they came to Nottingham 
ready to stand against all 

But the pagans covered by 
the walls of the fortress 
threaten war, draw up their 
forces, and shew a numerous 

but they tremble, clearly see- 
ing that the Christian people 
with a hundred and a thou- 
sand times a thousand resist- 
ed their enemies, at the ex- 
hortation of their sacred 


A. 869. 

Here the anny again went 

to York, and sate there one 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 869, which was the 
twenty-first of king Alfred's 
life, the aforesaid army of 
the pagans, gallopping hack 
to ^forthu^lherland, went to 
York, and there passed the 

ANNAL8. Akko 869. Then wu, 

again, a great famine, a mortality 

among men, and a pest among 


At the end of a year, there- 
fore, the army was transports 
ed to the city of York, and 
there also they measured out 
their camp m the winter 

CHARTERS ik 869. 1. Bvbo- 
EBD Of Mercia, subscribed also bjr 
Athelswith regina," and others. 11, 
94. 2. Etbelesd king of Wessez. 
II, 9.V 

A. 870. 

Here the army rode across 
Mercia into East-Anglia, and 
took up their winter quarters 

at Thetford. 
And the same winter king 
Eadmund fought against 
them, and the Danes got the 
victory, and slew the king, 
subdued all the land, and 
destroyed all the minsters 

which they came to. 

The names of their chiefs 

who slew the king were Ing^ 

wair and Ubba. 

V The death of St Edmnnd is related 
at great length in the ANNALS, but 
the account, as it there stands, bears 
evident marks of being an ecclesias- 
tical legend, minute— as, all the 
ecclesiastical tales of that age are,— 
even to tediousness, and in this 
respect very different from all the 
secular histories of those times . Its 
details cannot be received without 
great suspicion. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 870, which was 
the twenty-second of king 
Alfred's life, the above-named 

army of pagans passed 
through Mercia into East- 
Anglia, and wintered at 

In the same year Edmund, 
king of the East-Angles, 
fought most fiercely against 

But, lamentable to say, the 
pagans triumphed, Edmund 
was slain in the battle, and 
the enemy reduced all that 
country to subjection. 

Again after a year they de- 
parted, and passed through 
Mercia into East-Anglia, and 
there measured out their 
camp for the winter at Thet- 
ford. King Edmund carried 
on war against them for a 
short time, but he was slain 
there by them, and his body 
lies entombed at a place call- 
ed Beadoricsuuyrtne, * and 
the barbarians obtained the 
victory, but with the loss of 
their king soon afterwards : 
for king luuar died the same 

* St Edmund'sbury . 

FROM A. D. 849 TO VOX. 


870 J\$tmt 

The oratory of St Andrew 

the Apostle at Kemesege was 

built and dedicated by Alhun 

bishop of Winchester. 

I^mtttttgiott Simtoit 

leaders. At length, by the 

frace of Almighty God, the 
lowing of the storm ceased, 
the hearts of the wicked were 
appeased : they asked peace 
and a truce from the Chris- 
tians, as if they prayed to 
Christ himself to be oiercifid 

to them : 
Ruler, check the boiaterous wave, 

And as thou ruleit heaven above, 
Cause thfl earth to be at peace 

And bind it fast in love. 
Peace was made between the 
kings and the pagans, and 
they parted one from the 
other, like sheep from the 

The aforesaid army of 

the pagans, gallopping back 

to NorthumWlana, went to 

York, and there remained 

a whole year. 

t Tke cruelties of the Danes, as 
related bj Ingulf, Brompton and 
Hattkew of Westminster, would 
fill many pages and rather con- 
ten ibe history of the church, hav- 
ing fallen mostly on the monasteries. 

When therefore all the forces 
of the English were collected, 
and Hinguar saw his men 
besieged and unequal in 
strength, with the cunning 
of a tox, and soothing words, 
he obtained a truce from the 
English, and returning to 
York, remained there cruelly 
one year.f 

In the year 869, which was 
the 21st of Elfred's life, the 
aforesaid army again went 
to the nation of the Northum- 
brians, and there remained a 
year raving and raging, slay- 
ing and destroying numbers 
of men ana women. 

BROMPTON.- This year the city 
of Alclud, once so famous, and lying 
at the western end of the famous 

wall, was destroyed by the Danes. 


The above-named 

army of pagans passed 

through Mercia into East- 

Aaglia, and there wintered 

at Thetford. 
In the same year Edmund, 
the most blessed and glorious 
kioe of the East-Angles, 
•• If read in his Passion, 
vas martyred by tbe pagan 
kiof Inguar, in the Second 
lii£ctiony 12 Calends of Dec. 
[Nov. 20] being Sunday. 

CH RTER S IV 870. No charters 
tm be certainly ascribed to this year. 
There is one, of Ethxlkkd king of 
W6«aez [vol. II, p. 97 j without a 
4ate which therefore may belong to 
cillMr of the years 867, 8, 9, 870 or 

In the year of our Lord's 
Incarnation 870, which was 
the 5th of king Adelred, St 
Eadmund went to heaven. 
For the aforesaid armyof king 
Hinguar coming through 
Mercia to Thetford, remained 
there the winter, and wrought 
dreadful destruction on that 

wretched people. 
But king Eladmund, choosing 
to die rather than to see the 
desolation of his people, was 
taken by them, and shot by 
the arrows of those wicked 
men through his body, when 
it had been fastened to a tree. 
But the mercy of God 
wrought many signal miracles 
over his body. 

In the following year, whilst 
the rays of the sun were 
lighting the climes of the 
world, and the 870th year 
from our Lord's incarnation 
was come, then dawned the 
day, on which king Elfred 

was in his 21 St year. 
But the enormous multitude 
of the Danes, and, if I may 
so speak, their troops of 
legions, were gathered toge- 
ther, so that they seemed 
to be many thousands, and as 
if they had increased from a 
thousand to 20 myriads. They 
then went through Mercia 
to the East-Angles, and 
boldly wintered in the city of 
Theodford. But king Ead- 


mund, at that time, reigned 
over all the kingdoms of the East-Angles ; a holy and just 
man, as the end of his blessed life proved. That same year 
the aforesaid king fought fiercely and manfully with 
his men against the army. But, because the merciful 
God foreknew that he was to arrive at the crown of mar- 



3iirott ei^roiikU ^m (R^elvttb 870 

The invasion of East Anolia, 
accobdino to brompton, arose 
vkom thk following stort : 
•• There was a man of royal birth 
in the kingdom of Denmark, named 
Lodbroc, who had two sons, Hin- ' 
guar and Hubba. This man embarked 
one day with his hawk in a small 
boat, to catch ducks and other wild 
fowls on the adjoining sea coasts and 
islands. A terrible storm at length 
arose, by which Lodbroc was carried 
away, and tossed for several days 

At that same time they came 
to Medeshamstede, and 
burned and beat it down, 
slew abbot and monks, and 
all that place, which before 
was full rich, they reduced 
to nothing. 

And the same year died 
archbishop Ceolnoth. 

over every part of the Ocean. After 
numberless perils, he was cast ashore 
on the coast of Norfolk, near the 
village of Redham. Here he was 
found having his hawk alone for his 
companion, and presented to king 
Edmund. That monarch, struck with 
the manly beauty of his form, re- 
tained him at his court, and heard 
from his own mouth the recital of 
his adventures. He was then asso- 
ciated with Berne the king's hunts- 
man, and indulged in all the plea- 
sures of the chase, for in the exercise 
both of hunting and hawking he was 
remarkably graceful, and succeeded 
in capturing both birds and beasts 
according as he had a mind. This, 
however, produced Jealousy in the 
mind of Berne the huntsman, who 
one day, as they went out together 
hunting, set upon Lodbroc unawares, 
and having foully slain him, buried 
his body in the thickets of the forest. 

In the same year Ceolnoth, 
archbishop of Canterbury, 
went the way of all flesh, and 
was buried peaceably in his 
own city. 

But Lodbroc was the master of a 
small dog of the harrier species, 
which he had nourished from its 
birth, and which loved him much. 
>Vhen Berne the huntsman returned 
home with the other hounds, this 
little dog remained alone with its 
master's body. In the morning the 
king asked what had become of 
Lodbruc ; to which Berne replied, 
that he had parted from him yester- 
day in the wood, and had not 8c«n 
him since. At that moment the 
harrier entered the hall, and went 
round, wagging its tail, and fawning 
on the whole company, and especi- 
ally on the king. When he had 
eaten his fill, he again left the hall : 
this occurred repeatedly, until some 
one at last followed the dog to see 
where he went, and, having found 
the body of the murdered Lodbroc, 
came and told the story to the Jdng. 

Archbishop Ceolnoth also 
died that same year, and is 
buried in the city of Can- 

Then went jEthered and JE\U 
red his brother, and took 

iEthelred bishop of Wiltshire, and appointed him archbishop of 
Canterbury, because formerly he had been a monk of the 
same minster of Canterbury- All so soon as he came to 
Canterbury, and he was stablished in his archbishopric, he 
then thought how he might expel the clerks who (were) there 
within, whom the archbishop Ceolnoth had (before) placed 
there for such need* ... as we shall relate. The first year 
that he was made archbishop, there was so great a mortality, 
that of all the monks whom he found there within, no more 
than five monks survived. Then for the* ... he (com- 
manded) his chaplains, and also some priests of his vills, that 
they should help the few monks who there survived to do 
Christ's service, because he could not so readily find monks 
who might of themselves do the service ; and for this reason 
he commanded that the priests, the while, until God should 

give peace in this land, should help the monks. 
In that same time was this land much distressed by frequent 
battles, and hence the archbishop could not there effect it, 
for there was warfare and sorrow all his time over England ; 
and hence the clerks remained with the monks. Nor was 
there ever a time that monks were not there within, and they 
ever had lordship over the priests. Again the archbishop 
Ceolnoth thought and also said to those who were with him, 
' All so soon as God shall give peace in this land, either 
these priests shall be monks, or from elsewhere I will place 
within the minster as many monks as may do the service of 
themselves: for God knows that I ) 

* The MS. is imperfect in these 

A. 871. 

Here the army 

Heading in Wessex. 

In the year of our Lord's 
came to incarnation 871, which was 
the twenty-third of king 
Alfred's life, the pagan army, 
of hateful memory, left the 
East-Angles, and entering 

After one year therefore the 
army of the barbarians above- 
mentioned set out for Read- 
ing, and the principal object 
of the impious crew was to 
attack theNVest-Saxons ; and 

FROM A. D 849 TO 901. 


871 <iUnrmt 

The afiair wu now diligently en- 
quired into, and when the truth was 
tf last diecorered, the hnnttnum waa 
expoeed on the lea without oara in 
the boat which had belonged to 
to Lodbroc. In a few dan he was 
caet aahore In Denmark, and toought 
before the lont of Lodbioc, who 
inttiDg him to the torture, demanded 
w bim what had become of their 
father, to whom they knew the boat 
belonged. To this Berne replied, 
that their father Lodbroc had fallen 
into the hands of Edmund king of 
Eaat- Anglia, by whose orders he had 
l>een imt to death." 



tyrdom, he there fell gloriously. Of his passion I would 
fain insert some particulars into our history, that the sons 
of men may know and perceive how terrible is Christ 
the son of God in the counsels of men, and with what glori- 
ous triwnph he adorns those whom he torments here imder 
the name of suffermg, that the saymg may be fulfilled, He 
is not crowned except he strive lawfully, 
[11 Tim. ii, 5]. 
Now kin^ Eadmund devoutly 
undertook the government of 
the East-Angles, and held it with the right hand of power, 
always adoring and glorifying Almighty God for all his good 

things which he had enjoyed. 

In the same year Ceolnoth, 
archbishop of Canterbury, 
went the way of all flesh, and 
was buried peaceably in that 

same city. 

To whom the venerable 

£thelred succeeded. 

The same year m which the 
illustrious king and martyr 
entered through the crown of 
martyrdom into the joys of 
heavenly felicity, Ceolnoth 
archbishop of the city of 
Dover, went the way of all 
flesh, and was buried by the 
clerks in the same city. 

BROMPTON. When king Ed- 
mund was slain, his brother Edwold 
dreading the pleasures of the world 
seeing that a hard lot had fallen on 
himself and his brother, retired to 
the monastery of Camelia in Dorset- 
shire near a clear well, which saint 
Augustine had formerly brought 
out of the earth by prayer to bapttxe 
the people in, and there he led a 
hermit's Ufe on only bread and 

MATT. WESTM. In the same 
year died Weremund bishop of 
l)ommoc [Dunwich], after whom 
that see was transferred to Helm- 
ham, and, in the place of two bis- 
hops, one of whom had his see at 
Dommoc, and the other at Helm- 
ham, one bishop was ordained, by 
name Wilred, who had for his 
successors, in the same place, the 
following. Athulf, ^Ifric, Theo- 
dred, ^thelstnn, Algar, Alwin, 
JElfric. another MUric, Stigand, 
^thelm,and Herstan. 

871. In the 6th year of king A del- In the year of our Lord's 

The pagan army, red, a new army very great, incarnation 871, which was 

of hateful memory, left the like a flowing river that the 23rd of king Alfred's life, 

East-Angles, and entering carries all along with it, the pagan army, of hateful 

the kingdom of the West- went into Wessex as far as memory,left the East-Angles, 

Saxons, came to the royal Reding; but not being able, and entering the kingdom of 



SoriB C^roitkU 


And three days after this, two 
of their earla rode fordi. 

the kingdom of the West- 
Saxons, came to the royal 
city, called Reading, situated 
on the south hank of the 
Thames, in the district called 

And there, on the third day 
after their arrival, their earls, 
with great part of the army, 
scoured tne country for 
plunder, while the others 
made a rampart hetween the 
rivers Thames and Kennet 
on the right side of the same 
royal city. 

C%li9er> 871 

three days after they came, 
their two consuls, foigetting 
that thev were not on board 
their fleet, rode proudly 
through fields and meadows 
on horseback, which nature 
had denied to them.t 

X Thti nd mans otIwr'puM0M of 
Ethclwerd are very obecure. 

Then Alderman JBthelwulf 
met them at Englafield, and 
there fought against them, 
and got the victory : and 
there one of them, whose 
name was Sidroc, was slain. 

They were en- 
countered by iEthelwulf, earl 
of Berkshire, with his men, 
at a place called Englefield , 
both sides fought bravely, 
and made long resistance. 
At length one of the pagan 
earls was slain, and the 
greater part of the army 
destroyed; upon which the 
rest saved themselves by 
flight, and the Christians 
gained the victory. 

But duke Adulf met them, 
and, though his troops were 
few, their hearts resided in 
brave dwellings: they point 
their darts, 3iey rout the 
enemy, and triumph in abun- 
dant spoils. 

About three days after this, 
king iEthered and JEUred his 
brother led a large force to 
Readinj^, and fought against 
the army, and there was 
great slaughter made on 
cither hand. 

Four days afterwards, ^thel- 
red, king of the West-Saxons, 
and his brother iElfred, 
united their forces and 
marched to Reading, where, 
on their arrival, they cut to 
pieces the pagans whom they 
found outside the fortifica^ 
tions. But the pagans, 
nevertheless, sallied out from 
the gates, and a fierce en- 
gagement ensued. At last, 
grief to say, the Christians 

At length four 
days after their meeting, 
Ethered arrives with his 
army ; an indescribable battle 
is fought, now these, now 
those urffe on the fight with 
spears immoveable ; duke 
Athulf falls, who a short 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 




city, called Reading, situated 

on the south bank of the 

Thames, in the district called 


And there, on the third day 

after their arrival, two 

of their earls, 

with great part of the army, 

scoured the country for 

plunder, while the others 

made a rampart between the 

rivers Thames and Rennet 

on the right side of the same 

royal city. 

They were en- 
countered by iEthelulf, earl 
of Rerkshire, with his men, 
at a place called in English 
Englefield, and in Latin 

Anolorum campus; 
both sides fought bravely, 
and made long resistance. 
At length one of the pagan 
earls was slain, ana the 
greater part of the army 
destroyed; upon which the 
rest saved tliemselves by 
flight, and the Christians 
gained the victory. 

Four da3rs afterwards, king 

and his brother Alfred, 
united their forces and 
marched to Reading, where, 
on their arrival, they cut to 
pieoea the pagans whom they 
found outside the fortifica- 
tiona. Rut the pagans, 
nevertheless, sallied out like 

wolves from 
the gates, and a fierce en- 
gagement ensued. At last, 
grwf to say, the Christians 


by reason of their numbers, 
to advance together, they 
proceeded in different bands 
and by different routes, 
llieir leaders were two kings, 
Rasreg and Aldene. 

After 4 days, then, 

CHARTERS iir 871. 1. Alvkxd 
king of Weasez, II, 96. It it not a 
contemporary charter, but a Latin 
translation, of a more modem date. 
Mr Kemble ascribes it to the twelfth 

Edelwlf, meeting 2 consuls 
of the army at Engla-feld, 
fought and conquered them, 
and slew one consul named 

the West-Saxons, came to the 
royal city called At Reading, 
situated on the South bank of 
the river lliames, in the dis- 
trict which is now called 
Rerkshire by the inhabitants 

of that country. 
On the third day from that on 
which these enemies of the 
English came, their earls with 
a great multitude gallopped 
along the side of that nver, 
and carried off a great quan- 
tity of booty. 
Some of them tried to make a 
rampart between the river 
Thames and Kennet: but 
their design, and the work of 
the Danes was dissipated by 
the help of the EngUsh, that 
the words of the scholastic 
poet might he fulfilled : 

Though deck'd in Tyrian robes 
He shall not shun his fate ; 

The gems that wreathe his brow 
Draw down the people's hate. 
&c. Sec. 

And when those plunderers 
were setting maufmly to their 
work, suddenly Ethelwlf the 
vigorous duke of Rerkshire 
came down upon them, sur- 
rounded by his squadrons 
and armed in triple mail. Seeing the multitude of the 
barbarians, the leader of the Christians said to his men, 
" Their army is numerous, but yet we may treat them with 
contempt ; for though they attack us with the advantage of 
more men, yet our commander, Christ, is braver than they." 
The Christians then meet the Danes, trusting in the protec- 
tion of the Christian name : the aforesaid duke exhorts his 
men especially to resist their adversaries, being posted with 
his legions at a place called Englafeld. Here they fought a 
fierce battle, in which many fell wounded or were killed on 
both sides. There fell a prince of the Danes with a great 
multitude of his army ; toe others escaped by flight ; and 
the Christians gained the palm of victory and were masters 

of the place of death. 

And after 4 days, king Edel- 
red and his brother with 
many folk came to Reding 
and fought with the army; 
and many fell on both sides, 
and the Dacians [Danes] 
were victorious. 

These things having thus hap- 
pened, when 4 days from that 
time had elapsed, the 
powerful king Etlielred, and 
nis brother Elfred, having 
assembled large armies, as is 
the power and the excellence 
of kings, came to Reding, 
desiring either to live glori- 
ously in their kingdom, or to 
die in battle for Christ. And 
when king Ethelred, powerful 
in arms, had arrived with his 
beloved brother at the gate 
of the fortress, slaying and 


And alderman JElthelwulf 
was da in, and the Danish- 
men had possession of the 
place of carnage. 

fled, the pagans ohtained the 

victory, and the aforesaid 

earl i£thelwulf || was among 

the slain. 

And about four days after 
this, king ^thered and i£l- 
f red his brother fought against 
the whole army at ^scesdun 
[Asdown], and they were in 
two bodies : in the one were 
Bachsecg and Half dene the 
heathen kings^ and in the 

other were the earls. 
And then king iEthered 
fought against the division 
under the kings, and there 
kins; Bagsecg was slain ; and 
Alfred his brother against 
the division under the earls. 


calls him 

time before had obtained the 

victory: the barbarians at 

last triumph. 

The body of the above-named 
duke is privately withdrawn, 
and carried into the province 
of the Mercians, to a place 
called Northworthige, but 
Deoraby [Derby] in the lan- 
guage of the Danes. 
Four days after king iEthe- 
red with his brother Alfred 
fought again with all the 
army of the Danes at iEsces- 
dune [Ash DOWN,] and there 
was great slaughter on both 
sides : but at last king Ethe- 
red obtained the victory. 

Roused by this calamity, the 
Christians, in shame and in- 
dignation, within four days, 
assembled all their forces, 
and again encountered the 
pagan army at a place called 

iEscesdun [Ashdown,] 
which means the " Hill of 
the Ash." The pagans had 
divided themselves into two 
bodies, and began to prepare 
defences, for they had two 
kings and many earls, so 
they gave the half part of 
the army to the two kings, 
and the other part to all their 
earls. Which the Christians 
perceiving, divided their 
army also into two troops, 
and also began to construct 
defences. But Alfred, as we 
have been told by those who 
were present, and would not 

tell an untruth, marched up promptly with his men to give 
them battle ; for king iEthered remained a long time in his 
tent in prayer, hearing the mass, and said that he would not 
leave it, till the priest had done, or abandon the divine pro- 
tection for that of men. And he did so too, which after- 
wards availed him much with the Almighty, as we shall de- 
clare more fully in the seouel. 
Now the Christians had determined that king iEthered, with 
his men, should attack the two pagan kings, but that his 
brother iElfred, with his troops, should take the chance of 
war against the two earls. Things being so arranged, the 
king remained a long time in prayer, and the pagans came 
up rapidly to fight. Then iElfred, though possessing a sub- 
ordinate authority, could no longer support the troops of 
the enemy, unless he retreated or charged upon them with- 
out waitine; for his brother. At length he bravely led his 
troops agamst the hostile army, as they had before arranged, 
but without awaiting his brother's arrival ; for he relied in 
the divine counsels, and forming his men into a dense pha- 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


871 /Unitrt 


fl«d, the pagans obtained the 

victory, and the aforesaid 

earl ^thelulf was among 

the slain. 

And after 4 days, king 
Adelred and his brother 
Alfred fought again at Esces- 
dune, against all their army 
which had been divided into 
2 parts. In one division 
were the pagan kings Basreg 
and Aldene, against whom 
fought king Edelred, and he 
slew kin^ Basreg: in the 
other division were the pagan 
consuls, against whom fought 
Alfred the king's brother, 

Roused by this calamity, the 
Christians, in shame and in- 
dignation, within four days 
assembled all their forces, 
and again encountered the 
pagan army at a place called 

iEscesdun [Ashdown,] 
which means the " Hill of 
the Ash." The pagans had 
divided themselves into two 
bodies, and began to prepare 
defences, for they had two 
kings and many earls, so 

they gave half of 
the army to the two kings, 
and the other half to all their 
earls. Which the Christians 
perceiving, divided their 
army also into two troops, 
and also began to construct 
defences. But Alfred 

inarched up promptly with his men to give 
them battle ; for king iEthered remained a lon^ time in his 
tent in prayer, hearing the mass, and said that he would not 
leave it, till the priest had done, or abandon the divine pro- 
tection for that of men. And he did so too, which after- 
wards availed him much with the Almighty, as we shall de- 
clare more fully in the sequel. 
Now the Christians had determined that king iEthered, with 
his men, should attack the two pagan kings, but that his 
brother jElfred, with his troops, should take the chance of 
war against all the earls. Things being so arranged, the 
king remained a long time in prayer, and the pagans came 
np rapidly to fight. Then Alfred, though possessing a sub- 
ontinate authority, could no longer support the troops of 
the enemy, unless he retreated or charged upon them with- 
out waitinfi^ for his brother. At length he bravely led his 
troops agamst the hostile army, as they had before arranged, 
bat without awaiting his brother's arrival ; for he relied in 
the divine coimsels, and forming his men into a dense pha^ 

cutting down the enemy 
before and behind, the pagans 
on the other hand cut uiem 
down also; resisting with 
hostile rage. But, das ! oh 
grief! the enemies of the 
English that day obtained the 

Ethelwlf, also, of Berkshire, 
who before had raged as a 
lion in battle, then fell with 
the rest of the faithful in 

The English people, stung 
with grief and shame, im- 
plored the aid of the angels, 
that they would deign to grant 
them the assistance of the 
divine support. 

Again then, after 4 days, they 
lead their troops against the 
aforesaid enemies ; they seize 
their arms, and post their 
legions at a place called 
Etscesdun, whicn may rever- 
ently be interpreted in the 
Latm tongue Mons Fraxini 
" The Ash-Mount." There, 
famous men, and brave in 
battle, come forth to fight 
with all their force and with 
full good will. The Danes 
also, cunning as they are, 
dividing themselves into two 
bands, fight bravely with 
their men. They also had 
two kings and many dukes, 
who, using caution, gave half 
of the army to the two kings, 
and half to all the dukes. 
The English, perceiving this, 
themselves also appoint two 
bodies, and form niachines 
and defences of warriors. 
But king Elfred goes forth 
with his legions most readily 
to battle, knowing without a 
doubt, that victory would 
not lie with a multitude of 
men, but in the pity and 
mercy of God. King Ethel- 
red, also, was in his tent at 
prayer, zealously hearing the 
mass, and the things which 
are of God. These holy mys- 
teries were of much benefit to 
the king and the Christian 
people, as will be shewn in 

Now the Christian people and 
the English had devoutly 



301011 Cl^nmtrU 

lanx, marched on at once to 

meet the foe. 
But here I must inform those 
who are ignorant of the fact, 
that the field of battle was not 
equally advantageous to both 
parties. The pagans occupi- 
ed the higher ground, and the 
Christians came up from 
below. There was also a 
single thorn-tree, of stunted 
growth, but we have ourselves 
never seen it. Around this 
tree the opposing armies 
came together with loud 
shouts from all sides, the one 
party to pursue their wicked 
course, the other to fight for 
their lives, their dearest ties, 
and their country. And 
when both armies had fought 
long and bravely, at last the 
pagans, by the divine judg- 
ment, were no longer able to 
bear the attacks of the Chri»- 
tians, and having lost great 

5 art of their army, took to a 
isjpraceful flight. One of 
theur two kings, and five earls 
were there slain, together with 
many thousand pagans, who 
fell on all sides, covering 
with their bodies the whole 
plain of Ashdown.* 

Ct^dmr) 871 

BROMPTON. When mut was 
fullT ended, the aforesaid king Ethel- 
dred hastened speedily into the 
haUle. And although the Danes 
had pre-occupied the higher pomtioD 
of a mountain, he went up with 
his Christians from helow. and de- 
feated his enemies, and with the 
lance which he carried in his hand, 
he manfully slew their king Oteg, 
and deprived of Ufejanother king 
with the sword which he. bore at his 

• The site of this place Is disputed, 

but it was probably Ashdown near 


and there earl Sidroc the elder 
was slain, and earl Sidroc the 
younger, and earl Osbeam, 
and earl Frcena, and earl 

Hareld : 
and both divisions of the 
army were put to flight and 
many thousands slam : and 
they continued fighting until 

There fell in that battle king 
Bsegsceg, earl Sidroc the elder 
and earl Sidroc the younger, 
earl Obsbem, earl Frsna, and 
earl Hareld ; and aU the par 
gan army pursued its flignt, 
not only until night but until 
the next day, even until they 
reached the stronghold from 
which they had sallied. 
The Christians followed, 
slaying all they could reach, 
until it became dark. 

But it is proper that I should 
declare tne names of those 
chiefs who fell there: king 
Berse [Bagsac], the veteran 
Sihtrix [Sidroc] their consul 
the younger Sihtrix f Sinaoc] 
alio, the consul Osbeam, the 
consiU Fnena, the consul 
Harald; and, so to speak, 
all the flower of the barba- 
rian youth was there slain, 
so that neither before nor 
since was ever such destruc- 
tion known since the Saxons 
first gained Britain by their 

FROM A. D. 840 TO 901. 


871 fimxKt 

knxy marched on at once to 

meet the foe. 
Atlen^h kin|; iEthered, hav- 
mg Hnished his prayers, came 
up, and, having invoked the 
great Ruler of the world, 

plimged into the fight. 
Bat here I must inform those 
▼ho are ignorant of the fact, 
that the fieid of battle was 
not equally advantageous to 
both parties. The pagans 
oeciipied the higher ground, 
and the Christians came up 
bom below. There was also 
ft single thorn-tree, of stunted 

Around this tree the opposing 
armies came together with 
loud shouts from all sides, the 
one party to pursue their 
wicked course, the other to 
fight for their lives, their 
deijrest ties, and their coun- 
try. And when both armies 
had foueht long and bravelv, 
at last &e pagans, by the <u- 
rine judgment, were no longer 
able to bear the attacks of 
the Christians, and having 
lost great part of their army 
took to a disgraceful flight. 
One of their two kings, and 
five earls were there slain, 
together with many thousand 
pagans, who fell on all 
fides, covering with their 
bodies the whole plain of 



There fell in that battle king 
Baasegc, earl Sidroc the elder 
sod earl Sidroc the younger, 
earl Osbeam, earl Freana, 
and earl Harald; and the 
whole pagan army pursued 
its flight, not only until the 
nightbut until the next day, 
eren until they reached the 
ttronghold from which they 
had sallied. 

made up their minds to wage 
war bravely against their ene- 
mies, and that the brave 
king Ethelred, should fight 
with his myriads against the 
legions of the princes, namely 
one king of the English 
against two of the Danes: 
but king Elfred, with his dukes, fellow-soldiers, satraps, 
and people, was to take the lot of war, as had been deter- 

mmed, against all the dukes of the pagans. 
These things having been arranged on both sides, whilst 
king Ethelred was delaying a long time in prayer, and the 
pagans, ready for battle, had come quickly up to the place 
of deadly strife, Elfred, at that time second in the king- 
dom, was not able any longer to bear the hostile troops, 
unless he got the better of them either by battle or by 
death. On a sudden, starting up in his valour, he rushed 
with the holy squadrons of the English on the assembled 
multitudes of the Danes, the king came sheathed in arms 
and in prayer, who seemg that his brother's army was 
beautifully drawn up, went forth like a warlike Judas to 
the battle. They fought on both sides with manly intent, 
and fell there by fifties, by hundreds, and by thousands. 
Those who fell for their country, were carried, as we may 
believe, to the country of eternal happiness: but the 
others were carried to him of whom it is said, that <*He is 
the head of all iniquity.'* The kings not only exhortei 
their brave people with words, but also cut down 
their enemies with warlike valour. At last the Danes, 
seeing that the troops of their allies had fallen, were dis- 
turbed, were astonished, and were shaken; and boundless 
fear took hold of them. For the Danes were stricken with 
terror within their hearts, and no longer able to bear the 
attacks of the English in the engagement. They took to a 
disgraceful flight, and throwing away their swords, held 
out their right hands, and asked for peace. The kings, 
stretching out their swords, with difficulty appeased their 
warlike people, llie vulgar herd ran this way and that 
way, and the English people pursued them throughout the 
whole day. Many thousands were slain on tliat day, whose 
death the pious kings beholdin?, save boundless thanks to 

God, who had given them 
such a palm of victory on 
that dav. There, also, fell 
king Ber^secg and these 
dukes with him : that old 
earl Sidroc, to whom may be 
applied that saying The an- 
cient OP EVIL DAYS. There 
fell, also, duke Sidroc the 
younger, and duke Osbem, 
duke Frana, and duke Har- 
ald, with their troops, who, 
choosing the broad and spa 
cious way, went down into 
the depths of the lake. They 
knew not the way of teaching 
nor understood its paths : it 
was kept far away from 
their faces. 

And he slew 5 consuls , Sid- 
roc the elder, and Sidroc the 
younger, and Osbeam and 
Frena and Harolde : and 
their army was put to flight, 
and many thousands slain; 
and the battle lasted until the 



3aroit Cl)r0ittclt Jlsser Ctj^eloier) 87 f 

And about fourteen days 
after this, kbg iEthered and 
Alfred his brother fought 
against the army at Basing, 
and there the Danes obtained 
the victory. 

After fourteen days had 
elapsed, king iEthered, with 
his brother Alfred, again 
joined their forces and 
marched to Basing to fight 
with the pagans. The enemv 
came together from all 
quarters, and after a long 
contest gained the victory. 

Fourteen days after, they 
again took courage and a se- 
cond battle was fought at a 
place called Basins; : the bar- 
barians came and took part 
over against them ; the tight 
began, and hope passed from 
the one side to the other; 
the royal army was deceived, 
the enemy had the victory, 
but gained no spoils. 

And about two months after 
this, king i^thered and i^l- 
fred his brother fought against 
the army at Meretun ; and 
they were in two bodies, and 
they put both to flight, and 
during a great part of the day 
were victorious ; and there 
was ereat slaughter on either 
hand; but the Danes had 
possession of the place of 

And there bishop Heahmund 
was slain, and many good 

BROMPTON. And then from 

that place [Mebton] a tyrant of the 

Danes named Somerled, marching 

as far as Reading, destroyed the city 

and all he found there. 

After this, Etheldred king of the 
West-Saxons fought with him, and 
having been there mortally wounded 
died on the 9th before the calends of 
May [Ap. 2.1] in the 5th year of his 
reign, and was buried at Wymbuxn. 

• MATT WE8TM. Hamund 
bishop of Sherborne, to whom suc- 
ceeded ^thelhege. 

And after this battle After this battle, another 

there came a ereat ' sumor- „j^y came from beyond the 
lida ' to Reading. gga, and joined them. 

A ad after this, over Easter, 

king iEthered died ; and he 

reigned fire years, and his 

body lies at Winbume- 


The same year, after Easter, 
the aforesaid king iEthered, 
having bravely, honourably, 
and with good repute, govern- 
ed his kingdom five years, 
through much tribulation, 
went the way of all flesh, and 
was buried in Winbome 
Minster, where he awaits the 
coming of the Lord, and the 
first resurrection with the 

Furthermore, after 2 months 
the aforesaid king JEthered 
renewed the battle, and with 
him was his brother Alfred, 
at Merantune [Merton], 
against all the army of the 
barbarians, and a large num- 
ber was slain on both sides : 
the barbarians obtained the 

Bishop Heahmund there fell 
by the sword, and his body 
lies buried at Csgineshamme 
[KeynsiiaiiJ. Many others 
also fell or fled in that battle, 
concerning whom it seems 
to be a loss of time to speak 
more minutely at present. 
10 There came a summer- 
army innumerable to Reading 
and were eager to fight against 
the army of the West- Angles : 
to their aid also came those 
who had already long time 
been ravaging. 

1 Lastly, after the above-men- 
tioned battle, and after the 
Easter of the same year, died 
king Ethered, from whose 
family I derive my origin. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


871 /Urnre 



After fourteen days had 
elapsed, king iBthered, with 
his brother Alfred, again 
joined their forces and 
marched to Basing to fight 
with the pagans. The enemy 
came together from all 
quarters, and after a long 
contest gained the victory.^ 

When this glorious battle 
was ended, the kings, and 
all their people were filled 
with immense joy, seeing the 
flight of the Danes and the 

bravery of the English. 
After the lapse of 14 days, the 
excellent knig Ethelred, not 
knowing that the year of 
jubilee brings with it forgive- 
ness, aided by the trusty 
help of his brother, got toge- 
ther his army, gathered his spoil?, and distributed arms and 
many gifts to his fellow-soldiers. Those leaders of the people 
knew for certain that commonwealths will be safe, if those 
who study wisdom rule them, or if those who rule them 
study wbdom. Again the Danes and English were gathered 
together for battle, and when their utmost fury had been 
put forth, the pagans almost gained the victory. 

Again, after 14 days, king 
Adelred and his brother AU 
fred fought with the army at 
Basing, and the Danes con- 

Again, when 2 months had 
nassed, king iEthered with 
his brother Alfred, fought 
with the pagans, who had 
divided themselves into 2 
bands, at Meretun, and for 
a long time were victorious, 
having routed all their ene- 
mies. But they came back 
to the fight, many fell on 
both aides, and the pagans, 
gaining the victory, were 
masters of the field of death. 

Aeain, after 2 months king 
Adelred and his brother Al- 
fred fought with the army at 
Merton, and many fell on 
both sides, and the Danes, 
after having long been beaten 
back, at last conquered. 

There was slain bishop Ed- 
mund and many nobles of 

The fame year, aftei Easter, 
the aforesaid kine ^thered, 
having bravely, honourably, 
and with good repute,govem- 
ed his kingdom five years, 
through much tribulation, 
went the way of all flesh on 
the 9th before the calends of 

May [Ap. 23], and 
was buried in W inborn e 
Mmster, where he awaits the 
coming of the Lord, and the 
first resurrection with the 

After this battle a great army 

came in the summer to 


This year, after Easter, died 
king Adelred, and was buri- 
ed at Win bumham minster 
£Wimbourn-Mim8Ter] ; he 
reigned 5 years. 

In the same year, king Ethel- 
red full of years and perfect 
in goodness, after fighting so 
many famous battles, began 
to enjoy the happiness of a 
future life and everlasting 
kingdom with the King of 
all ages in the land of the 


$mn C||C0iti(U 



(KtlieliDer) 871 

Then iElfred the son of 
^thelwulf, his brother, suc- 
ceeded to the kmgdom of 
the Weat-Saxons. 

2 And mow I havx polloweo uf 


3 Thus far then. 

4 I will now leave obscurity and begin to speak concerning 
the sons of Athulf. They were five in number: the first 
was Ethelstan, who also shared the kingdom with his father : 
the second was Ethelbald, who also was king of the Western 
English : the third was Ethelbyrht, kine of Kent : the fourth 
was Ethered , who after the death of Edelbyrht succeeded to 
the kingdom, and was also my grandfather's grandfather : 
the flfth was Elfred, who succeeded after all the others to 
the whole sovereignty, and was your grandfather's grand- 

5 Wherefore 1 make known to you, my beloved cousin 
Matilda, that I receive these things from ancient tradition, 
and have taken care in most brief style to write the history 
of our race down to these two kings, from whom we have 
taken our origin. To you therefore, most beloved, I devote 
this work, compelled by the love of our relationship : if others 
receive them with haughtiness, they will be judged unworthy 
of the feast ; if otherwise, we advise all in charity to gather 

what is set before them. 

6 Let us return then to the story that we broke off, and to the 

death of the above-named Ethered. 
The same year, the aforesaid 7 His reign lasted 5 years, 
Alfred, who had been up to and he is buried in the mona- 
that time only of secondary stery which goes by the name 

And about one month after 
this, king Alfred with ^, small 
band fought against the whole 
army at Wutun, and put 
them to flight for a eood part 
of the day; but the Danes 
had possession of (he place 

rank, whilst his brothers were 
alive, now, by God's per- 
mission, undertook the 
government of the whole 
kingdom, amid the acclama- 
tions of all the people , and 
if he had chosen, lie might 
have done so before, whilst 
his brother above-named was 
still alive ; for in wisdom and 
other qualities he surpassed 
all his brothers, and moreover 
was warlike and victorious 

in all his wars. 
And when he had reigned 
one month, almost against 
his will — ^for he did not think 
he could alone sustain the 
multitude and ferocity of the 
pagans, though even during 
nis brothers' lives, he had 
borne the woes of many, — 
he fought a battle with a few 
men, and on every unequal 
terms, against all the army 
of the pagans, at a hill called 
Wilton, on the south bank of 
the river Guilou, from which 

of Wimbome. 

8 Chaf. III. Of the asxov of 
King Alfred. 
9 After these things, .£lfred 
obtained the kingdom when 
his brothers were deed, — he 
also was the youngest son of 
king Athulf— over all the 
provinces of Britain. 

But the army if the Angles 
at that time was small on 
account of the king's abaenccy 
who at the same time had 
performed his brother's obse* 
quies, and although their 
ranks were not full, vet their 
hearts were firm in their 



FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 



The lame year, the aforesaid 
-Alfred, who had been up to 
that time only of aecondary 
rank, whilst his brothers were 
alive, now, by God's per- 
miision, undertook the 
government of the whole 
iingdom, amid the acclam»- 
tioas of all the p«op]«.* 

And when he had reigned 
one month, almost against 
his wfl], — ^for he did not think 
he could alone sustain the 
mnldtude and ferocity of the 
uagana, though even durine 
ms brothen' lives, be haa 
borne the woes of many — 
he fought a battle with a few 
men, and on yery unequal 
terms, against all the army 
of the pagans, at a hill called 
WQton, on the south bank of 

Then Alfred his brother, son 

of Adelwlf, reigned over 


* Here Florence givM the account 
of Alfred's youthful yean, transfer- 
red to page 31. 

And about one month after, 
he fought with few men at 
Wiltonf against the army, and 
for a long time drove them 
back; and after that, the 
Danes gained the victory. 

f BROMPTON says Waltoh in 
Sussex : but MATT. WEST, says 
** Wilton on the south bank of the 
river Guilo, from which that pro- 
vince is called Ouiltoscira [Wilt- 

The aforesaid king 
being thus removed from 
this world, Elfred is chosen 
by the dukes and prelates of 
the whole nation, and not 
only by them but by all the 
people he is entreated to rule 
over them to do vengeance 
on the nations, and rebuke 
the people. When he had 
thus gained the rule of the 
whole nation, he always was 
a brilliant warrior, and victor 
in all his battles by the smiles 
of fortune and the agency of 

The aforesaid army 
rebelled against him most 
fiercely, but, seeing the 
strength of the English, and 
knowing their own weakness, 
they turned their backs in 



SaroB ClirmricU 

And this year nine general 
battles were fought against 
the army in the kingdom 
south of the Thames, besides 
which, Alfred the king's 
brother, and single alder- 
men, and king's thanes, 
oftentimes made incursions 
on them, which were not 
counted : and within the year 
nine earls and one king were 

And that year the West- 

Saxons made peace with the 



river the whole of that dis- 
trict is named. 
And after a long and fierce 
engagement, the pagans, 
seeing the danger they were 
in, and no longer able to 
bear the ' attack of their 
enemies, turned their backs 
and fled. 

But, oh, shame to say, they 
deceived their too audacious 
pursuers, and again rallying, 

gained the victory. 
Let no one be surprised that 
the Christians had but a 
small number of men, for the 
Saxons had been worn out 
by eight battles in one year, 
against the pagans, of whom 
they had slain one king, nine 
dukes, and innumerable 
troops of soldiers, besides 
endless skirmishes, both by 
night and by day, in which 
the oft-named Alfred, and 
all his chieftains, with 
their men, and several of his 
ministers, were engaged 
without rest or cessation 
agauist the pagans. How 
many thousand pagans fell 
in these numberless skir- 
mishes God alone knows, 
over and above those who 
were slain in the eight battles 

above mentioned. 
In the same year the Saxons 
made peace with the pagans, 
on condition that they 
should take their departure, 
and they did so. 

Ct^eliDtr) 871 

breasts, they rejoice in the 
fight, and repel the enemy ; 
but at length oppressed with 
fatigue, they cease from the 

The barbarians hold posaesa- 
ion of a sterile field of battle : 
Afterwards also they spread 
themselves and ravage the 

During their foul domination 
there were three battles 
fought by the Angles, besides 
the battles before-mentioned, 
and eleven of their consuls, 
whom they call ** earls," were 
slain, and one of their kings. 

Lastly, in the same year the 
Eastern Angles made peace 

with them. 
And the number of years to 
the encamping of the barba- 
rian army in Reading and 
to the death of king EUielred 
and the succession of his bro- 
ther Alfred was the seventy- 
first from the time that Eg- 
bert had first consolidated 
the kingdom, and forty seven 
from the time that the Mer- 
cians and Western Angles 
carried on civil wars at the 

place called Ellandune, 
and king Egbert received the 
name of victor twenty-six 
years from the time that the 
Dattle was fought in Pedre- 

dan [Petherton] ; 
and twenty years after the 
contest which was waeed near 

the wood called OcUey ; 
andlastly five years from the 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


871 fitWUt 

the river Guilou from which 
rirer the whole of that dis- 
trict is Darned. 
And after a Ions and fierce 
engagement, the pagans, 
leeiDg the danger they were 
in, and no longer able to 
hear the attack of their 
enemies, turned their backs 

and fled. 
Bat, oh, shame to say, they 
deceiTed Uieir too audacious 
pursuers, and again raUying, 
gained the victory, and were 
masters of the place of death. 
Let no one he surprised that 
the Christians had hut a 
nksJl number of men, for the 
Saxons had been worn out 
by eight hattles in one year, 
against the pagans, of whom 
they had slam one king, nine 
dukes, and innumerable 
troops of soldiers, besides 
endless skirmishes, both by 
night and by day, in which 
the oft-named Alfred, lUid 
an his chieftains, with 
their men, and several of his 
ministers, were engaged 
without rest or cessation 
against the pagans. How 
many thousand pagans fell 
in thestf numberless skir- 
mishes God alone knows, 
over and above those who 
were slain in the eight battles 

ahove mentioned. 
In the same year the Saxons 
made peace with the pagans, 
on condition that they 
should take their departure, 
and they did so. 


In this year were nine pitch- 
ed hattles against the army 
in the kingdom on the south 
side of the Thames ; besides 
the assaults which Alfred his 
hrother and the kins's gene- 
rals often made. 
And this year were slain 1 
king and 9 earls. 

And the nohles of Wessex 

made a truce with the army 

of the pagans. 


flight. But, oh shame ! they 
turned a^ain by the rasK- 
ness of tneir pursuers, and 
were provoked again to bat- 
tle, and, gaininc; the victory, 
were masters of the field of 

In the same year, the Saxons 
made a treaty of peace with 
the same pagans, on condi- 
tion that they should depart 
from them. 


$nn ttftnicU $^m HVftlm^ 87i 

arrival of the pasfans in the 
countfy of the East Angles. 
And without long delay, they 
- - then went to Reading. 

A. 872. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 872, the twenty- 
fourth of king Alfred's life, 

After a vest had elapaed 
from the time of their coning 

Here the armv went from 
Reading to London, and 
there took up their winter- 
quarters: and then the 
Mercians made peace with 
the army. 

CHARTERS tv 872. 1. W«a- 
FBiTH bishop [of Winchester] II, 98. 
2. Ethklrko duke of Mercia, sub- 
■crihed by " Burhred rex Merci- 
orum/' "Ethels wyth regina" and 
others. II, 99. It is without date, 
and may belong to either 872, 873. or 
874. 8. Werpritr bishop [of 
Winchester] II.IOQ. 

A. 873. 

Here the army went into 
North-humbria, and took up 
their winter-quarters at Tork- 
sey in Lindsey : and there 
the Mercians made peace 
with the army. 

CHARTERS iv 87S. none. 

the above-named army of 

pagans went to London, and 

there wintered. 


Mercians made 
with them. 


to Reading, they measured 
out their camp in the neigh- 
bourhood of the city of 

But the Mercians ratify a 
treaty with them, and pay a 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 873, the twenty- 
fifth of king^ uElfred, the 
above-named army, leaving 
London, went into the 
country of the Northum- 
brians, and there wintered 

in the district of Lindsey. 

And the Mercians again made 

treaty with them. 

After one year the barbarians 
change their position to the 
neighbourhood of the citv 9i 
Lindsey in a place called 

The Mercian people renew 
their treaty with them. 

A. 874. 

Here the army went from 
Lindsey to Repton, and there 
took up their winter-quarters, 
and drove king fiurgrsd 
over sea about twenty-two 
years after he had obtained 

the kingdom. 
And subdued the whole 
country : and Burgred went 
to Rome, and there remained 
and his body lies in St 
Mary's church at the English 

in tlie year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 874, the twenty- 
sixth since the birth of king 
Alfred, the army before so 
often mentioned left Lindsey 
and marched to Mercia, 
where they wintered at 

Also they compelled Burh- 
red, king of Mercia, against 
his will, to leave his kingdom 
and go bevond the sea to 
Rome in tne twenty-second 
year of his reign. 

After the lapse of a year, 
the barbarians at length re- 
move to a place called Rep- 
ton, and drive king Burhred 
from the kingdom beyond 
the sea. 

Twenty and two years are 

enumerated from the time 

that he first occupied his 

father's kingdom. 

CHARTERS m 874. none. He did not long live after his 

874 /Iftme 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 




Died Alhnn bishop of the 
Wiccii; and Wcrefrith, a 
naneling of the church of 
Worcester, and a man most 
learned in the Holy Scrip- 
tures, was ordained bishop by 
^thdred the archbishop of 
Dover, on the 7th before the 
ides of June, [June 7] being 

The above-named army of 

pagans went to London, and 

there wintered. 

In the Ist year of king Al- 

* Hera Floronee placet a long ac- 
count of Alfred's learned men, 
which will be firen hereafter. 

fred, the army came from 

Reding to London, and was 

there through the winter. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 872, the 24th 
from king Elfred's birth, the 

aforesaid army of the pagans 
went to London, and there 

The Mercians made peace And the Mercians made a wintered ; and the Mercians 
with them. truce with the army. made a truce with them. 

sbore-named army, leaving 
London, went into the 
eoontry of the Northum- 
brians, and there wintered 
in the district of Lindsey. 

And the Mercians again made 
treaty with them. 

But, in his 2nd year, king 

Haldene led the same army 

to winter in Lindesei at Tor- 


In the year 873, the 25th 
from the birth of Elfred king 
of the English, the army so 
often before mentioned, leav- 
ing London, went to the 
country of the Northum- 
brians, and there wintered : 

and the Mercians again made 
peace with them. 


The army above 

mentioned left Lindsey, 

and marched to Mercia, 

where they wintered at 


Also they compelled Burh- 
red, king of Mercia, against 
his will, to leave his kingdom 
snd go beyond the sea to 
Borne, in uke 22nd year of 
his reign : he did not live 
long after his 

In the 3rd year, they winter- 
ed at Rependune [Kepton]. 
Then were gathered together 
with him three other kings, 
Godrun, Oscetin, and An- 
wend, and thev became in- 

And they drove beyond the 
sea king Burhred, who had 
reigned 22 years over Mer- 
cia. But burhred went to 
Rome, and dying there> was 
buried in the church of St 
Mary at the English School. 

In the year of our Lord's In- 
carnation 874, the 26th from 
the birth of Elfred king of 
the English, the army above- 
mentioned left the province 
of Lindsay, and entering 
Mercia, wintered at Repton. 

Burhred also, king of the 
Mercians they drove out of 
his kingdom and compelled 
to go to Rome, in the 22nd 
year of his reign. 

He did not live long to the 





SofOB (UirmrirU 

And that same year they 
committed the kingdom of 
the Mercians to the keeping 
of Ceolwulf , an unwise kmf s 
thane; and he swore oaths 
to them, and delivered hosta- 
ges that it should he ready 
■or them on whatever day 
they would have it, and that 
he would he ready hoth in 
his own person ana with all 
who would follow him, for 
the hehoof of the army. 

arrival, hut died there, and 
was honourahly huried in the 
school of the Saxons, in St 
Mary's church, where he 
awaits the Lord's comine and 
the first resurrection wiUi the 

The pagans also, after his ex- 
pulsion, suhjected the whole 
kingdom of the Mercians to 
their dominion ; hut by a 
most miserable arrangement, 
gave it into the custody of a 
certain foolish man, named 
Ceolwulf, one of the king's 
ministers, on condition that 
he should restore it to them, 
whenever they should wish to 
have it again ; and to guar- 
antee this agreement, he gave 
them hostages, and swore that 
he would not oppose their 
wiU, but he obedient to them 
in every respect 

(tU^elvet) 874 

The above-named king did 
not abandon hiii hope in 
Christ, but made a journey to 
Rome and died there, and 
his body, laid in a worthy 
mausoleum, reposes in the 
temple of Christ's blesied 
mother, which is now called 
the school of the English. 

They now break the peace, 

and devastate the lands of 

the Mercians. 

At the same time Ceolf 

possessed the kingdom of ^e 


A. 875. 

Here the army went from 
Repton : and Healfdene 
went with some of the army 
into North-humbria, and took 
up winter-quarters by the 
river Tyne. 

And the army subdued the 

land, and oft-times spoiled 

the Picts, and the Strathclyde 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 875, which was the 
27th of king Alfred, the 
above-named army, leaving 
Repton, divided into two 
bodies, one of which went 
with Halfdene into North- 
umbria, and having wintered 
there near the Tyne, reduced 
all Northumberland to sub- 

CHARTERS iw 875. 1. Cbol- 
wouy king of Merda. II, 101. i. 
EA&owoLr, tubtcribed alto thus ; 
** MUxtd. gratia Dei nx hanc Ifber- 
tatem donatloiiia men consend 
tBanuaua mea propria roboravi et 
tubacTipsi." and by others. II, 102. 
9. CsoLWOLV king of Mercia. II. 

Lastly after a year, the bar- 
barians divide the kingdom 

into two parts. 
Halfdene the leader of the 
barbarians took one part 
namely the kingdom of the 
Northumbrians, and there he 
chose his winter-quarters near 
the river called the Tyne, 
and they ravaged the coun- 
try there on every side. 
But they also made frequent 
wars on the Picts and the 
men of Cumberland. 

And the three kin?s,Godrum, 
and Oscytel, and Anwvnd, 
went with a large army nrom 
Repton to Grantabridge, and 
sat down there one year. 

They also ravaged the Picts 
and the Strath-Cl^densians. 
The other division, with 
Gothrun, Oskvtel, and A- 
mund, three kines of the 
pagans, went to a place called 
Urantabridge, and there 

Osk3rtel also, and Guthrum, 
and Annuth, their three 
kings, with an immense army, 
came from Repton to a place 
called Grantabridge [Cam- 
bridoe], and there remained 
twelve months. 

FROM A. D 849 TO 901. 


875 JliWUt 

airiTal, but died there, and 
was honourably buried in the 
•chool of the Saxons, in St 
Marf'a church, where he 
twaita the Lord's coming and 
the first resurrection with the 

The Danish pirates also, after 

his ex- 
pulsion, subjected the whole 
nnffdom of the Mercians to 
theur dominion; but by a 
most miserable arrangement, 
gsTC it into the custody of a 
certain foolish man, named 
Ceoluulf, one of the king's 
ministers, on condition that 
he should restore it to them, 
whenever they should wish to 
have it again ; and to guar- 
antee this agreement, he gave 
them hostages and swore that 
be would not oppose their 
win, but be obedient to them 
in every respect. 


The Danes then gave the 
kingdom of Mercia to a fool- 
ish kin^, one Ceolwlf , to keep 
for their own use. But he 
took an oath, and gave them 
hostages that he would res- 
tore to them the kingdom 
whenever they wished it, and 
that he would be ready to 
march to their aid, with all 
the men he could muster. 


world after his arrival at 
Rome, because he went to 
Him who is the true life ; and 
he was honourably buried in 
the church of St Mary, mo- 
ther of our Lord Jesus Chnst, 
and ever a virgin, awaiting 
his second coming, when he 
shall largely give to the good 
their due rewards, and deal 
out their dreadful punish- 
ments to the wicked. 
The Danes, also, after his ex- 
pulsion, subjected the Mer- 
cian kingdom to their own 
rule. They gave it to a sol- 
dier of that same nation nam- 
ed Ceolwlf, on condition that, 
whenever they chose, they 
might have it back again, 
without deceit, and wiuiout 

above-named army, leaving 
Repton, divided into two 
booies, one of which went 
with Halfdene into North- 
umbria, and having wintered 
there near the Tyne, reduced 
an Northumberland to sub- 

In the 4th year of king Al- 
fred, the army left Repton 
and was divided. King Alf- 
dene with one part, went into 
Northumbria, and was near 
the river Tine during the 
winter: and he seized the 
land and divided it out 
among his men, and they 
tilled it two years; and he 
often plundered the Picts. 

They also ravaged the Picts 
and the Strath-Clydensians. 

The other division, with 
Gnthrun, Oskitell, and A- 
muid, three kings of the 
pagans, went to a place caUed 
Grantabridge, and there 

But the three kings of the 
Danes aforesaid with the 
greater part of the army came 
to Grantebridge and there 
remained 1 year. 

In the year of our Lord's In- 
carnation 875, the 27th from 
the birth of king Elfred, the 
aforesaid army left Repton, 
and divided itself into 2 
parts. One part with Hal- 
dene went into the country of 
the Northumbrians,and rava- 
ged it, and wintered near the 
river Tyne, and subdued all 
that nation under its domi- 
nion, and they plundered the 
Picts and the Stretcluttians 
[Strath-Cltde Britons]. 
Earduif the bishop and abbat 
Eadred, taking the body of 
St Cuthbert from the island 
of Lindisfame, fled from 
place to place 9 years before 
the face of the barbarians, 
with that treasure in their 

The other part of that band 
with Gutthrura, and Oscytel, 
and Amund, kings of the pa- 
gans, came to a place named 
Grantabric [Cambridge] and 
there wintered. 



And that summer king 
Alfred went out to sea with 
a fleet, and fought against 
the forces of seven ships, 
and one of them he took, 
and put the rest to flight 

In the same year, king 
Alfred fought a hattle hy sea 
against six ships of the 
pagans, and took 1 of them ; 
the rest escaped by flight. 

Ct^eloier) 875 

Furthermore in the summer 
of the same year, king iBlfred 
came out with his army on 
board a fleet by sea, and the 
barbarians met them with 

seven tall vessels. 

A battle ensues, and the 

Danes are routed : the king 

takes one of their ships. 

A. 876. 

Here the army stole away to 

Wareham, a fortress of the 


CHARTERS m 876. None. 

And after- 
wards the king made peace 
with the army, and they gave 
the king hostf^es from among 
the most distmguished men 

of the army. 

And then they swore oaths 
to him on the holy ring, 
which they never before 
would do to any nation, that 
they would speedily depart 

his kingdom. 
And, notwithstanding this, 
that part of the army which 
was norsed stole away by 
night from the fortress to 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 876, beine the 
twenty-eighth year of king 
Alfred's life, the aforesaid 
army of the pagans, leaving 
Grantabridge Dv night, enter- 
ed a castle called Wareham 
where there is a monastery 
of holy vir^ns between the 
two rivers Frawn [Frome] 
and Trent, in the district 
which is caUed in British 
DuRNoucis but in Saxon 
TnoRNSiETA, placed in a most 
secure situation, except that 
it was exposed to danger on 
the western side from the 

contiguity of the land. 
With this army Alfred made 
a solemn treaty, to the effect 
that they should depart oiit 
of the kmgdom, and for this 
they made no hesitation to 
give as many hostages as he 

And they swore an oath over 
aU the relics, which 
with king Alfred were next 
in veneration after the Deity 
himself, that they would 
depart speedily n-om the 
kingdom. But they again 
practised their usual trear- 
chery, and caring nothing for 
the hostages or their oaths, 
they broke the treaty, and 
sallying forth by night, slew 
all the horsemen that the 
king had round him, and 
turning off into Devon, to 
another place called in Saxon 
ExANCEASTER, but in British 
Cair-wisc, which means in 
Latin, the city of Ex, situated 
on the eastern bank of the 
river Wise, they directed 
their course suddenly towards 
the south sea, which divides 
Britain and Gaul, and there 
passed the winter. 

After one year, 
3 The army which had 
been at Cambridge made a 
junction with the western 
army, a thing which they 
had not done before, near the 
town which is called Werham, 
and ravaged the greater part 

of that province. 

4 Also the king ratified a 
treaty of peace.with them and 

gave them money. 

5 But they gave him hostages 
chosen out of their army, 

and made oath to him on 
their sacred bracelet which 
they had never done to the 
kings of the other districts, 
that they would quickly leave 

their territories. 
6 But they broke the peace 
andcontravened their engage- 
ments, and the following year 
extended their troops into 
the province of Devon, where 
they passed the winter at 



FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

Id the same year, king 
Alfred fought a hatde by sea 
against ax ships of the 
pagans,and took one of them ; 
the rest escaped by fHght. 

This year king Alfred fought 

a battle by sea against 7 ships, 

1 of which he took, the others 




But king Alfred, consoling 
himself with a sea-fight, 
found six ships at sea, and 
enraging bolaly with them 
took one of them : the others 
fled in fear. 

The aforesaid 
army of the paeans, leaving 
Grantebrycg by night, 
entered a c^e called Ware- 
bam where there is a monas- 
tery of holy virgins between 
the two rivers Frawn[FaoME] 
and Trent, in the district 
which is called in 
DoEHSETA^ placed in a most 
secure situation, except that 
it was exposed to danger on 
the western side from the 
contiguity of the land. 

The following year, the army 
of the 3 kings came to Ware- 
ham in Wessex. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 876, the 28th from 
the birth of kine £lfred, the 
aforesaid army, leaving Cam- 
bridge by nieht, entered the 
castle which is called Ware- 

With this army Alfred made 
a solemn treaty, to the effect 
that thev should depart ont 
of the kingdom, and for this 
they ma£ no hesitation to 
give as many hostages as he 

And they swore an oath over 

all the relics, which 
with king JElfred were next 
in veneration after the Deity 
himself, that ihej would 
depart speedily from the 
kingdom. But they again 
practised their usual trea- 
d^ery, and caring nothing for 
the noetages or their oaths, 
they broke the treaty, and 
allying forth by night, slew 
sll the horsemen that the 
king had round him, and 
tuning off into Devon, to 
another place called in Saxon 


Latin, the city of Ex, situated 
on the eastern bank of the 
tame river, they directed 
their course suddenly towards 
the south sea, which divides 
Britain and Gaul. 

But king Alfred made a truce 

with the army and received 

some of their nobles as 


And they made an oath to 
him, which they had never 
made to any other, that they 
would speedily leave his 

The next night those of the 

army who had horses, went 

away secretly, andproceeded 

to Exanceastre [Exeter]. 

Whose sudden coming the 
king of the West-Saxons fore- 
knowing made a treaty with 
them receiving hostages on 
the condition that they should 
leave his kingdom. 

But they in their usual man- 
ner, not caring for the hosta- 
ges and their oaths, broke the 
treaty one night, and turned 
off to Exeter which is called 
in British Cairwisc, in Latin 

CiVlTAS AQUARUM, [City of 


* These notices of the march to 
Exeter are probably by anticipation : 
for the Saxon Chron. places it clearly 
in 877. and Asier, Florence and 
Huntingdon again notice it, as if 
under 877. 



Sorn (UrrmticU 

And that year 
Healfdene apportioned the 
lands of Norio4iumbria : and 
they thenceforth continued 
ploughing and tUling them. 

This year RoUa overran Nor- 
mandy with his army, and 
he reigned fifty years. 

* The TitioB may be wen in the 
Annals but ia not worth copying. 
Rollo't history is well known. 

In the same year, Halfdene, 
king of those parts, divided 
out the whole country of 
Northumberland between 
himself and his men, and 
settled there with his army. 
In the same year, Rollo, with 
his followers penetrated into 

fThis same Rollo, duke of the 
Normans, whilst wintering 
in Old Britain, or England 
at the head of his troops, 
enjoyed one night a vision 
revealing to him the future. 
See more of this Rollo in the 

(ttiftlmtti 876 

2 And in the course of|the 

same year, 
1 The tyrant 
Healfdene obtained the king- 
dom of the Northumbrians, 
all of whom he reduced to 


A. 877. 

Here the amiy came to 
Exeter from Wareham. 

2 And king .Alfred with his 
forces rode after the army 
which was mounted, as far 
as Exeter; and they were 
unable to overtake them 
before they were within the 
fortress, where they could 
not be come at. 

1 And the fleet sailed round 
westward! : and then a great 
storm overtook them at sea, 
and there one hundred and 
twenty ships were wrecked 
at Swanawic. 

In the year 877, the pagans, 
on the approach of autumn, 
partly settled in Exeter, and 
partly marched for plunder 
into Mercia. The number 
of that disorderly crew in- 
creased every day, so that, if 
thirty thousand of them were 
slain in one battle, others 
took their places to double 

the number. 
Then king Alfred command- 
ed boats and galleys, i. e. 
long ships, to be built 
throughout the kingdom, in 
order to offer battle by sea 
to the enemy as they were 
coming. On board of these 
he placed seamen, and ap- 
pointed them to watch the 

Meanwhile he went himself 
to Exeter, where the pagans 
were wintering, and having 
shut them up within the 
walls, laid siege to the town. 
He also gave order to his 
sailors to prevent them from 
obtaining any supplies by 
sea; and his sailors were 
encountered by a fleet of a 
hundred and twenty ships 
full of armed soldiers, who 
were come to help their 

As soon as the king's men 
knew that they were filled 
with pagan soldiers, they 
leaped to their arms, and 
bravely attacked those bar- 
baric tribes : but the pagans, 
who had now for almost a 
month been tossed and al- 
most wrecked among the 

Lastly their fleets put to sea 
and spread their sails to the 
wind : but a lamentable storm 
came on, and the greatest 

Sart of them, namely a hun- 
red of their chief ships, were 
sunk near the rock which is 
called Swanwich. 

FBOM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

877 /litifttt 

2 In the same year, Half dene, 
the pagan lung, divided 
out tne whole country of 
Northiunberland between 
himself and his men, and 

Kttled there with his army. 

3 The same year, Rollo, with 
his foUowers penetrated into 
Normandy on the 15th cal. 

Dec. [Nov. 17]. 



This year RoUo came with 
his men into Normandy. 


4 The pagan army left at Wer- 

ham with the fleet, went to 


The following year the per- 
jured army came from Ware- 
ham to Exeter. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 877, the 29th from 
the birth of Elfred. 

1 Alfred collected his army 
and followed them; but, 
becsnse they had already 
entered ^e city, he could 
not overtake them ; hut he 
fvced them to give as many 
hostages and of as high rank 
ss he should choose ; and he 
made a firm treaty with them, 
which they kept well for no 
diort space of ttnie; and 
they wintered there. 

King Alfred with many of 
his folk, followed the army, 
who had horses, hut he could 
not overtake them before 
they reached Exeter. 

CHARTERS iir 877. None. 

But, before they arrived 

there, 120 of their ships were 

ionk by a storm at sea. 

and the naval 
host, as they were rowing 
round, was overwhelmed by 
a storm and 120 ships perish- 
ed at Swanawic [Swanwich]. 



Sim €i^xnkU 


Wftlmttl 877 

waves of the sea, foaght 
▼ainly against them; their 
bands were discomfited in a 
moment, and all were smik 
and drowned in the sea, at a 

place called Suanewic. 
In the same year the army 
of pagans, leaving Wareham, 
partly on horseback and 
partly by water, arrived at 
Suanewic, where one hundred 
and twenty of their ships 
were lost ; and king Alfred 
pursued their land-army as 
far as Exeter ; there he made 
a covenant with them, and 
took hostages that they 
would depart] t 

And they there delivered to 
him hostages as many as he 
would have, and swore many 
oaths : and then thev ob- 
served the peace wdl. 

And afterwards, during 
harvest, the army went into 
Mercia, and some part of it 
they apportioned, and some 
they ctelivered to Ceolwulf. 

The same year, in the month 
of August, that army went 
into Mercia, and gave part 
of that country to one Ceol- 
wulf, a weak-minded man, 
and one of the king's minis- 
ters; the other part they 
divided among themslves. 

{ AU that ii included in brackets 
from [Thxi iamk Rollo (p. 62) ii 
not found in the earliest MS. of 
Asser. The narrative is here very 
much confused and apparently in 

The barbarians renew their 
fraud and offer peace : hosta- 
ges were given, more than 
were demanded, to the effect 
that they would withdraw 
out of the territories of king 
Alfred ; and they did so. 

They devastata the kingdom 

of tne Mercians and drive 

out all the free men. 

They erect their huts in the 
town of Gloucester. 

A. 878. 

At the end of that year there- 

CHARTERS iir 878. 1. ALFaxn 
king of Wessex. II, 105. 2. 
Another of Alprbd, without date, 
[II, 106] is reflBrred to some year 
between 871 and 878. 

Here during midwinter, after 
twelfth night, the army stole 
away to Chippenham, and 
overran the lana of the West- 
Saxons, and sat down there. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 878, which was 
the thirtieth of king Alfred's 
life, the army above-men- 
tioned left Exeter, and went 
to Chippenham, a royal villa, 

this foul mob broke the 
compact which they had be- 
fore solemnly made with the 
Western Angles, and they 
take up their winter-quarters 
at Chippenham. 

878 /Imm 

FROM A. D. S49 TO 001. 



Bera Plortiioe tmerti "Kinf 
lay Jte." giTvn in p. 63. 

♦ Then the anny gave him 
whatever hostages ne asked 
for, and swore to keep the 
peace, and they kept it well. 

On the 
eh of antumn, some 
the pagans settled at 
£xeler» some went to Mercia. 
Part ol which comitry they 
gave to Ceoluidf, to whose 
chazge they had committed 
it, as has heen stated : part 
they divided among them* 

Then the army went into 

Mercia, and kept part of 

that kingdom, giving the 


That wick- 
ed army left Exeter. 


The anny above-men- 
tioned left Exeter, and^went 
to Ch^ipciiham, a royal villft, 

In the 7th year of kinff Al- 
fred, yfh&i now the Danes 
were in possession of all the 
Idngdom on the northern 
aide of the Thames, and king 
Haldene was reigning in 
Northumberland, and the 
brother of Haldene was in 
East-Anglia, and the 3 kinn 
aforesaid were with their 
king Ceolwlf in Mercia and 
London and Essex, hut to 
king Alfred nothing was left 
save the land beyond the 
Thames; it seemed to the 
Danes to be a disgrace to 
them that even this should 

remain to him. 
The 3 kings therefore came 
to Chippenham in Wessex 
with a wonderful multitude of 
men who had lately come 
from Denmark, and covering 
the earth like locusts, since no 


And going to the royal vUl 

of Chippenham, there 



Sirot d^nmick 



(Etl^eltDrr) 87S 

And many of the people they 
drove beyond sea, and of the 
remainder the greater nart 
they subdued and forcea to 
obey them, except king 

And he, with a small band, 
with d^icul^ retreated to 
the woods and to the fastnes- 
ses of the moors. 

situated in the west of Wilt- 
shire, and on the eastern 
bank of the river, which is 
called in British, the Avon. 
There they wintered, and 
drove many of the inhabitants 
of that country beyond the 
sea by the force of their arms, 
and by want of the neces- 
saries of life. They reduced 
almost entirely to subjection 
all the people of that country. 
At the same time the above- 
named king Alfred, 
with a few of 
his nobles,and certain soldiers 
and vassals, used to lead an 
unq[uiet life among the wood- 
lands of the county of 
Somersetjin ereat tribulation ; 
for he had none of the 
necessaries of life, except 
what he could forage openly 
or stealthily, by frequent 
sallies, from the pagans, or 
even from the Christians who 
had submitted to the rule of 
the pagans, and as we read 
in the Life of St Neot, at the 
house of one of his cowherds. 
But it happened on a certain 
day, thattne countrywoman, 
wife of the cowherd, was preparing some loaves to bake, 
and the king, sitting at the nearth, made ready his bow and 
arrows and other warlike instruments. The unlucky woman 
esp3ring the cakes burning at the fire, ran up to remove 
them, and rebuking the brave king, exclaimed : — 
Ca*!!! thee mind the ke-aks, nian, an' doosaen zee 'em burn f 
I'm boon thee't eat 'em vait enough, aa soon ai 'tis the turn. * 

The blundering woman little thought that it was king Al- 
fred, who had fought so many battles against the pagans, and 

gained so many victories over them. 
But the Alimehty not only granted to the same glorious king 
victories overliis enemies, but also permitted him to be harass- 
ed by them, to be sunk down by adversities, and depressed 
by the low estate of his followers, to the end that he might 
learn that there is one Lord of all things, to whom every 
knee doth bow, and in whose hand are the hearts of kings ; 
who puts down the mighty from their seat and exalteth the 
humble ; who suffers his servants when they are elevated at 
the summit of prosperity to be touched by the rod of ad- 
versity, that in their humility they may not despair of God's 
mercy, and in their prosperity they may not boast of their 
honours, but may also know, to whom they owe all the 

things which they possess. 
We may believe that the calamity was brought upon the 
king aforesaid, because, in the beginning of his reisn, when 
he was a youth, and influenced by youthhil feelings, he would 
not listen to the petitions whicn his subjects made to him 
for help in their necessities, or for relief from those who 
oppressed them ; but he repulsed them from him, and paid 

no heed to their requests. 

The people were everywhere 
unable to resist: some of 
them were driven by the im- 
pious wretches over the sea 
into Gaul. 

King Alfred was at this time 
straitened more than was be- 

* ThU ii in the Somertet dialect. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901* 


878 JltttUi 

situated in the west of Wilt- 
shire, and on the eastern 
bank of the river, which is 
called in British, the Avon. 
There they wintered, and 
drove many of the inhabitants 
of that country beyond the 
sea by the force of their arms, 
and by want of the neces- 
saries of life. They reduced 
almost entirely to subjection 
all the people of that country. 
At tne same time 

king Alfred 
with a few of 
his nobles, and some of 
his vassals, used to lead an 
unquiet life among the wood- 
lands of the county of 
Somerset, in great tribulation, 
for he had none of the 
necessaries of life, except 
what be could forage openly 
or stealthily, by frequent 
sallies, from the pagans, or 
even from the Christians who 
had submitted to the rule of 

the pagans.* 

one could resist them, they 
took possession of it for them- 

Part, therefore, of the people 
fled \. beyond the sea, part 
followed king Alfred, who 
hid himself with a few men 
in the marshes, and part sub- 
mitted to the enemy. 


But king Elfred in those 

days suffered many tribulsr 

tions, and led an unquiet 


• AU writers on English History 
have had difficulty in finding any 
aoeoant in the Chroniclers of a 
defeat sufflciently severe to ac- 
count for Alfred's fugitive condition 
in the early part of 878. The battle, 
which caused Alfred's retreat into 
the marshes, seems to be preserved 
in the following narrative of John 
Brompton, but misplaced in 871, 
and altogether jumbled up with other 

" When King Etheldred was dead, 
his brother, who hitherto, during 
the life of his brothers, had been of 
secondary rank, succeeded to the 
entire sovereignty of Wessex in the 
year of our Lord 872, and he was the 
first of all the kings of England who 
received regal unction, which was 
administered to him, as it is written, 
by Pope Leo at Rome. That same 
Tear the Danes puryiied the new 
king, and came up with him at 
Walton in Sussex, where King Alf- 
red, in the midst of the fight, fled 
from the field of battle, and escap- 
ed to the wood. From thence he 
went into Wessex, where he collec- 
ted all the people of his kingdom, 
and in a short time had so large 
an army, consisting of his own 
subjects and others, that the Danes 
did not dare to meet him in the 
field. Ho then went to attack them 
in London, where they had taken 
up their residence : but the Danes, 
not venturing to give him battle, 
asked peace of him, and offered to 
let him choose out of them what- 
efer hostages he pleased, on condi- 
tion that they should leave his do- 
minions, and never again enter 
them. On that same day, therefore, 
the boauges were given, and the 

Danes leaving London, marched the 
whole night, and never rested until 
they reached Exeter, which they 
surprised and occupied. When King 
Alfred heard this, he first hanged 
the hostages, and then followed 
the Danes with all his army to 
Exeter. The Danes, hearing that 
he was coming, abandoned the city 
and went as far as Chippenham in 
Wessex ; where they did much 
damage, plundering the country, 
and expelling the people from their 
habitations. But King Alfred came 
upon them there, and bravely en- 
countered them in a battle, where 
Hubba the brother of Hinguar, and 
Bruem Bocard, who had first con- 
ducted them from Denmark, were 
both slain, besides many others on 
both sides. At last the Danes pre- 
vailed, and Alfred, who had in too 
great haste marched against them 
with too small an army, escaped 
from the battle in the best manner 
that he could. The Danes, finding 
the body of Hubba among the slain, 
buried it amid loud lamentations, 
and placed over it a mound, which 
they called Hubbelowe, as it still is 
called to this very day in the county 
of Devon, where it is to be seen. 
" When the barons of the counties 
of Somerset, Wilts, and Dorset, 
heard of the calamity that had be- 
fallen their king Alfred, they all as- 
sembled in great force at the place 
where he was ; for they were rejoic- 
ed to see him safe and Round, having 
believed that he was dead. Where- 
fore the king and the barons imme- 
diately took counsel about pursuing 
the Danes, and galloping after them 
with an immense army all that night, 
the next morning at the ninth hour 

they came up with them at Ahen- 
dun. Alfred and his men immedia- 
tely assaulted them, and the battle 
which ensued was more valorously 
contested than any they had fought 
before : but the Danes resisted the 
English so bravely, that it is impos- 
sible to say on which side the loss of 
life was greatest. Thus the English, 
after having slafai many of their 
enemies, were now reduced in num- 
bers and broken down by eight bat- 
tles fought this same year." 

In the foregohig narrative the batUe 

of Abendune is probably that of 

Edandune : and its connection with 

that of Chippenham U correct, 

though misplaced by 7 years. 





This particular gave much 
annoyance to the holy man St 
Neot, who was his reUtion, and often foretold to him, in the 
■pirit of prophecy, that he would suffer great adversity on this 
account; hut AlSred neither attended to the reproof of the 
man of Ood, nor listened to his true prediction. Wherefore, 
seeing that a man's sins must he corrected either in this world 
or the next, the true and the righteous Jud^e was willing 
that his sin should not go unpimished in this world, to the 

end that he might spare hun in the world to coine. 
From this cause, therefore, the aforesaid .£lfred often fell 
into such great misery^ that sometimes none of his 

subjects knew where he was 
or what had become of him. 

Ct^Uml 878 

And the same winter the 
brother of Inwaer and of 
Healfdene came with 
twenty-three shins^to Devon- 
shire in Wessex. 

And he was there slain, and 
with him eight hundred and 
forty men of his army : and 
there was taken the war-flag 
which they called Raven. 

In the same year the brother 
of Hynguar and Healfdene, 
with twenty-three ships, after 
much slaughter of the Chris- 
tians, came from the country 
of Demetia [South-Wales], 
where he wintered, and sailed 
to Devon, where, with twelve 
hundred others, he met^ with 
a miserable death, being slain 
while committing his mis- 
deeds, by the king's servants, 
before the castle of Cynuit, 

into which many 
of the king's servants, with 
their foUowexs, had fled for 
safety. The pagans, seeing 
that the castle was altogether 
unprepared and unfortified, 
except that it had walls in 
our own fashion, determined 
not to assault it, because it 
was impregnable and secure 
on all sides, except on the 
eastern, as we ourselves have 
seen, but thev began to 
blockade it thinking that 
those who were inside would 
soon surrender either from 
famine or want of water, for 
the castle had no spring near 
it. But the result did not 
£all out as they expected ; for 
the Christians, before they 
began to suffer from want, 
inspired by Heaven, judging 
it much better to eain victoiy 
or death, attacked the pagans 
suddenly in the morning, and 
from the first cut them down 
in great niunbers, slaying 
also their king, so that few 
escaped to their ships.* 

6 In the same ytur anired 
Healfdene brother of the 
tynuit Inguuar with thirty 
galle3rs, in the western parti 
of the Angles, and beneged 
Odda duke of Deroii in a 
certain castle, and war was. 

stirred up on all sidsa. 
6 The king of the barbarians 
fell, and eighty decads with 

7 At last the Danes obtain the 

•The AKKALSsdd hm: "tlietf 
theygsintd a rtrr laife booty, nd 
•mongit other things tho ttuidaitf 
oftUed RaTen, for they say that the 
three sisters of Hvngar and Habba. 
daughters of Lodebroo, wore that 
fkg and got tt ready in one day. 
Thar say, moreover, that In ey«iy 
battle, vhenever that flag went 
before them, if they were to gain the 
victory a live crow would aspear fly- 
ing on the middle of the flsff; but 
if they were doomed to be defeated 
it would hang down aotionlees ; and 
this was ofieo proved to be so." 



FBJOM A. D. 849 TO 901. 



til tlie MAe year the tyrotber 
of Ingilar and Halfdene) 
widi twenty-^three ehi^ af tef 
BMeh alailgbter of the Ch w 
tianS) came from the oomitry 
ef Dematia [South-Wales], 
whcra lie had wintered, and 

to Deroiii where, with twelve 
hnndMl others, he met with 
a miserable death, being slain 
while e<Nnmitting his mis- 
deeds, hj the king's servants 
bdora tne castle of Cynuit, 

into which many 
of the king's servants, with 
their followers, had fled for 
isfety. The pagans, seeing 
that the castle was altogether 
unprepared and unfortified, 
except that it had walls in 
our own fashion, determined 
not to assanlt i^ because it 
was impregnable and secure 
OD all sides, except on the 
but they be^an to 
Uoekade it, thmking that 
those who were inside would 
MOD surrender either from 
fimine or want of water, for 
the castle had no spring near 
it Bat the result did not 
fiU ofiitaa they expected) for 
die Christians, before they 
began to su^er from want^ 
inspired by Heaven, judging 
it much better to eain victory 
or deadi« attacked the pagans 
inddenly in the morning, and 
from ^ first cut them down 
in great nmnbers, slaying 
also their king, so that few 
esc^ed to their ships. 

But now that king Alfred 
had neither land nor hopes of 
having any, the Lord looked 
down upon the remains of 

his people. 
For the brother of kin^ Hal- 
dene came with 23 ships in* 
to Devonshire in Wessex. 

But the people of king Alfred 
slew him with 840 men of 
his army, and there was 
taken their standard called 
the Raven. 

2 That same year, Inguar and 
Healfdene, with 23 ships, 
sallied forth like fierce wolves 
from the country of Demetia 
[South Wales], in which 
they had wintered, after much 
slaughter of the Christians 
wWch they had there perpe- 
trated, and after the burning 
of monasteries, and sailed to 
Devonshire, where they were 
slain with 1200 men by the 
brave servants of the king 
before the castle of Cynwith, 
for many of the kind's ser- 
vants, as has been said, had 
shut themselves up in that 
castle as a place of refuge. 


$mt tiftomU 3^mx Calmer) 878 

And after this at Easten kinc 
^fred with a small band 
r constructed a fortress at 
Atbelue^ ; and from this fort- 
ress, ¥ath that part of the 
men of Somerset which was 
nearest to it, from time to 
time they fought against the 

Then in the seventh week 
after Easter he rode to 
Ecghyrht's-stane, on the east 
.of Seiwood ; and there came 

The same year, after Easter, 
king Alfred, with a few fol- 
lowers, made for himself a 
stronghold in a place called 
JEtheungaeg [Atuelney]. 

And from thence sallied with 
his vassals and the nobles of 
Somersetshire, to make fre- 
quent assaults upon the 

Also, in the seventh 
week after Easter, he rode 
to ^gbryhta's stone [Brix- 
ton] which is in the eastern 
part of the wood which is 
called Selwood, which means 
in Latin Silva Magna, the 
Great Wood, but in British 

1 Ethelnoth also duke of 
Somerset lived with a narrow 

retinue in a certain wood, 

2 And they built a strong- 
hold in the island of Athelin- 
gay, which seems to have be^ 

situated in a marsh. 

3 But the aforesaid king 
fought daily batties against 

the barbarians. 

4 Uavinff with him the pro- 
vince of Somerset only ; no 
others assisted him, except 
the servants who made use of 

the king's pastures. 
Meanwhile, after the Easterl 
of that year, king Alfred 

} March 23, in 878. 

to meet him all the men of 
Somerset, and the men of 
Wiltshire, and that portion of 
the men of Hampshire which 
was on this side of the sea ; 
and they were joyful at his 

And on the following day he 
went from that station to 
Iglea, and on the day after 

this to Ethandun, and there 
fought against the whole 
army, andput them to flight, 

neichbourine folk of Somer- 
setshire, and Wiltshire, and 
Hampshire, who had not, for 
fear of the pagans, fled 
beyond the sea ; and when 
they saw the kine alive after 
such great tribulation, they 
received him, as he deserved, 
with joy and acclamations, 
and encamped there for one 

When the following day 
dawned, the kmg struck his 
camp, and went to iEcglea, 
where he encamped for one 

ITie next mominff he re- 
moved to Ethandun, and 
there fought bravely and 

fought against the army that 

was in Chippenham, at a place 

called Ethandune, and they 

obtain the victory. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 





INGULF. Not long after this, the 
king himself, feigning to be a glee- 
man, took hit harp, and went into 
the camp of the Danes : where, 
being admitted into its most private 
places, he saw all the secrets of hia 
enemies, and, when he had gratified 
his wishes, he withdrew without 
being found out and got back safely 
to Adelyngia. 


1 Having been consoled by an 
open oracle through St CutlK 
bert, he fought against the 
Danes, at the time and place 
which that saint had ordered, 
and gained the victoiy, and 
ever from that time he was 
terrible and invincible to his 
enemies, and held saint Cuth- 
bert in especial honour. 
But how he conquered his 
enemies may be seen a little 
farther on. 

The same year, after Easter, 
king .£lf red, with a few fol- 
lowers, made for himself, a 
stronghold in a place called 
£thdmgaeig [Athelney]. 

And from thence sallied with 

his vassals of 
Somenetshire, to make fre- 
quent assaults upon the 

Also, in thf seventh 
week after Easter, he rode 
to Egbriht's stone [Baix- 
Tox] which is in the eastern 
part of the wood which is 
called Selwood, which means 
in Latin Silva Masna, [the 
Great Wood]. 

Here he was met by all the 
neighbouring folk of Somer- 
letshire, and Wiltshire, and 
Hampshire who had not, for 
fear of the pagans, fled 
beyond the sea; and when 
wv saw the king alive after 
nich great tribuhtion, thev 
received him, as he deserved, 
▼ith joy and acclamations, 
and encamped there for one 

When the following day 
daimed, the king struck his 
camp, and went to Ecglea, 
where he encamped for one 

The n<>xt morning he re- 
moved to Ethandim, and 
there fought bravely and 

King Alfred, then, comfort- 
ed by this success, prepared a 

fortress at Ethelingeie 
[Athelnbt], and making 
Uiis his stronehold, often 
fought against the army, with 
the help of the Somersetshire 
folk who lived near there. 

In the 7th week after Gast^ 
er, he went to Ecgbrichstan 
I^BaiXTON], on the eastern 
side of Seleuude [Selwood}. 

And there he was met by all 
the men of Somerset and 
Wilts and those who were 
left of the Hampshire men, 
all glad to see him. 

And the next day he went to 
iEglea [Clay hill]. 

And from thence the next 

day to Edendune [Eo- 


But king Elfred, trusting in 
the Lora Ood, and accompa- 
nied by a few companies of 
men, made a fortress in a 
place called Ethelingaige, in 
which residing with his 
fellow-soldiers, he often salli- 
ed from the fortress, and un- 
ceasingly crushed his foes. ' 

At the time of our Lord Jesus 
Christ's resurrection, he did 
this. He left the fortress, 
and gathering his strength, 
afterwards, when 7 weeks of 
days and one over had been 
completed ; that is 50 days, 
he came to Ecgbert's stone, 
on the eastern side of the 
forest that is called in Exiglish 
Mucelwood, but in I^ttin 
Magna Silva [the Great 
Wood], and in British Coit- 


There all the people of 
Somerton, Wilton and 
Hampton met their beloved 
king; and, when they saw 
him, they rejoiced with 
boundless jov of heart, as if 
they received him back again 
from the dead; 

The third day after, he camfe 
with an immense army to a 
place called Edderandun, 



San Clnnrirk 

and pursued them at far aa 

their fortress: and there he 

sat fourteen days. 

And then the army delivered 
to him hostages, with many 
oaths, that they would leave 
his kingdom, and also pro- 
mised him that their ihks 
should receive baptism : and 
that they accordingly fulfill- 

And about three weeks after 
this king Guthrum came to 
him, with some thirty men 
who were of the most dis- 
tinguished in the army, at 
Aiure, which is near AtheV 
ney : and the king was god* 
father at baptism ; and his 
chrismloosing was at Wed- 
more: and he was twelve 
days with the king ; and he 
greatly honoured him and his 
companions with gifts. 

f MdmdtL, evidenUy a mteUke for 

■KVXPICXA, gift!. 


perseveringly against all the 
army of the pagans, whom, 
with the divine help, he 
defeated with great slaughter, 
and pursued them fl3dng to 

their fortification. 
Immediately he slew aU the 
men, and carried off all the 
boo^ that he could find with- 
out the fortress, which he 
immediately laid siege to with 
all his army; and when he 
had been there fourteen days, 
the pagans, driven by famine, 
cold, fear, and last of all by 
despair, asked for peace, on 
the condition that they should 
give the king as many hosta- 
ges as he pleased, but should 
receive none of him in return, 
in which form they had never 
before made a treaty with any 

The king, hearing that, took 
pity upon them, and received 
sucn hostages as he chose; 
after which the pagans swore 
moreover, that they would 
immediately leave the king* 
dom; and their king, Ood- 
rum, promised to embrace 
Christianity, and receive bap- 
tism at king Alfred's han^ 
All of which articles he and 
his men fulfilled as they had 

For after seven weeks God- 
rum, king of the pagans, with 
thirty men chosen from the 
army, came to Alfred at a 
place called Aire, near Ath- 
elney, and there king Alfred, 
receiving him as his son by 
adoption, raised him up from 
the noly laver of baptism on 
the eighth day, at a royal 
villa named Wedmore, 
where the holy chrism was 

Doured upon him. 

After his baptism he remained 

twelve nights with the king, 

who, with all his nobles, gave 

him many fine house.) 

CtlKUietl 878 

But after the decision of the 
battle, the barbarians promise 
peace, ask a truce, give hoa- 
tages, and bind themselves by 

Their king submits to be 
baptised, and Alfred tha 
king receives him from the 
laver in the mandiy isle of 

Duke Athelnoth also puri- 
fied the same at a plaoa 
called Wedmore, and aing 
Alfred there bestowed Vfm 
him magnificent honon. 

A. 879. 

Here the army went to 
Cirencester from Chippen- 
ham, and sate there one 

In the ^ear of our Lord's 
incarnation 879, which was 
the thirty-first of king Alfred, 
the aforesaid army of pagans 
leaving Chippenham, as they 
had promised, went to Ciren- 
cester, which is caUed in 

After a year from the time of 
the pagan army leaving 
Gloucester, they marched to 
Cirencester, and ihen 

FROM A. a 849 TO 901. 


879 /Urriff 

peneveringly against all the 
army of the pagans, whom, 
with the divine help, he 
defeated with great slaughter, 
and pursued them flying to 

their fortification. 
Immediately he slew all the 
men, and carried off all the 
hooty that he could find with- 
out the fortress, which he 
immediately laid siege to with 
all his army, and when he 
had heen there fourteen days, 
the pafaiis, driven by famine, 
cold, fear, and last of all by 
despair, asked for peace, on 
the condition that they should 
give the king as many hosta- 
ges as he pleased, but should 
receive none of him in return, 
in which form they had never 
before made a treaty with any 

The king, 
bearing their prayer, took 
pity upon them, and received 
such nostages as he chose; 
after which the pagans swore 
moreover, that they would 
immediately leave the king- 
dom ; and their king, Guth- 
nnn, promised to embrace 
Chnstiaiiity, and receive bap- 
tism at kins Alfred's hancU. 
An of which articles he and 
hiB men fulfilled as they had 

For after seven weeks Outh- 
nun, king of the pagans, ¥dth 
thirty men chosen from the 
army, came to Alfred at a 
placi called Aahr, near Ath- 
ebey, and there king Alfred, 
recetving him as his son by 
adoption, raised him up from 
the holy laver of baptism 
jnA gave him the name of 
EoMMtan, and the loosening 
fihm chrysm was made on 
the 8th day at a royal vill 

named Weadmor. 

After hk baptism he remained 

twelve nights with the king, 

vbo, with all his nobles, gave 

him many fine houses. 



And there he fought against 
the army and routed them 
and followed them to their 
fortress, and remained there 
14 days. 

and found equally immense 
bodies of the pagans ready 
with an immense multitude 

for battle. 
When the sun's bright ra 
began to shine,the king and al 
the pride of his people clad themselves in their warlike 
ornaments, namely the threefold breastplate of faith, of hope, 
and of the charity of God. Rising from the ground, they 
boldly challenged to the battle, securely trusting in the cle- 
mency of their Creator, and protected by the ramparts of 
their Jting who was standing by them, whose look shone, as 

that of /a shining angel. 
The {wo nations fought through a great part of the day, and 
their voices, and the clatter (tf their arms were heard a long 

way off. 
The great Beholder of all thines, perceiving the inmost wish 
of his earthly king, granted to nim the suffrage of the angelic 
power. He at length laid low his enemies and gained the 
victory, returning £anks to his heavenly Saviour with joy 

of heart. 
And whilst the king was smiling; with his bands, the foemen, 
who remained, mourned with loud cries for the severity of 
their hunger and of the cold, and for fear of so great a king ; 
they ask for the mercies of peace — they who had always 
been the enemies of peace. 

Then the army gave him hos- 
tages, and swore that they 
would leave his kingdom. 

They promise hostages, and 

hold out oaths in their righ 


They also nromised that their 

king should be baptized ; and 

this was done. 

For Godrum their prince 
came to king Alfred and was 
baptized. Alfred became 
his god-fatiier, when he had 
kept him with him 12 days, 
and he gave him many gifts 
at his departure. 

The king, hearing all this, 
moved by his in-born cle- 
mency, grants all they re- 
But their kmg, named Gut- 
thrum, bore witness that he 
wished to become a Christian, 
and was royally received 
under the hand of the most 
pious king in the purification 
of baptism. The same Gut^- 
thrum was tinged with the 
baptism of Sdvation, with 
30 other elect men, and the 
king of the Saxons received 
him for his son of adoption. 
After he was baptized, he 
remained with him 12 nights 
in great glory ; to whom his 
spiritual father gave many 
and unspeakable gifts, and to 
all who received the faith of 

The aforesaid army of pagans 
leaving Chippenham, as they 
liad promisea, went to Ciren- 
cester, which is 

In the 8th year of Alfred, the 
aforesaid army went from 
Chippenham to Cirencester, 
and there passed the winter 
in peace. 


In the year of our Lord's In- 
carnation 879, the 31st from 
the birth of king Elfred, the 
aforesaid army of the pagans 
leaving Chippenham, as they 



Sofot tiftmk 


And that year a body of pi- 
rates drew together, and sat 
down at Fmham on the 

British Cair Cori, and is 
situated in the southern part 
of the Wiccii,t and there they 

remained one year. 
In the same year, a large 
army of pagans sailed from 
foreign parts into the river 
Thames, and joined the army 
which was already in the 


They wintered at Fulham 

near the river Thames. 

And that same year the sun i„ ^^e same year an eclipse 
was eclipsed dunng one hour ^f the sun took place, between 
of the day. three o'clock and the evening, 

but nearer to three o'clock. 

(tOltlmtti 879 

t Hence ' Which wood forest' 

In the course of the same 
year the sun was eclipsed. 

A. 880. 

Here tlie army went from 

Cirencester to East-Anglia, 

and settled in the land, and 

apportioned it. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 880, which was 
the thirty-second of kins 
Alfred, the above named 
army of pagans left Ciren- 
cester, and went among the 
East Angles, where they 
divided out the country and 
began to settle. 

And that same year the army 
which previously had sat 
down at Fulham, went over 
sea to Ghent in France, and 
sate there one year. 

The same year the army of 
pagans, which had wintered 
at Fulham, left the island of 
Britain, and sailed over the 
sea to the eastern part of 
France, where they remained 
a year at a place called 

A year after the eclipse, the 
aforesaid army struck their 
tents, and leaving Cirencester 
went into the country of the 

East Angles. 
And pitching their camp, re- 
ducea all the inhabitants of 

those parts to subjection. 
And it was now fourteen 
years since the barbarians 
first wintered in the country 

aforesaid, and ravaged it. 
In the same year, when they 
had reduced the district afore* 
said, they went in a vessel to 
Gaul and took up a position 

at a place called Ghent. 

They were the same men who 

had formerly measured out 

their camp at a place called 


A. 881. 

Here the army went further 
into France, and the French 
fought against them: and 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 881, which was 
the thirty-third of king Al- 
fred's life, the aforesaid army 

After a year, they attempt to 
proceed further; but the 
armies of the Franks assail 
them and gain the victory ; 

FROM A. D 849 TO 901. 


881 /Urme 

fituated in the southern part 

of the Wiccii, and there*they 

remained one year. 

In the same year, a large 
army of pagans sailed from 
foreign parts into the river 
Thames, and joined the army 
which was already in the 

They wintered at Fulham 

near the river Thames. 
In the same vear an eclipse 
of the sun took place, between 
three o'clock and the evening 
hut nearer to three o'clock. 
Dnnbert bishop of Winches- 
ter died, and was succeeded 
hy Deneulf. This man, if we 
believe the story, for great 
part of his life was not only 
deroid of learning, but was 
also a cowherd, fing Alfred 
▼hen 3rielding to the fury of 
bis enemies, and fleeing into 
the wood, lighted upon this 
man by chance, as he was 
feeding his swine.* Perceiv- 
ing his talents he sent him to 
be taught letters, and after- 
wards, when he was better 
instructed, he made him 
bishop of Winchester : a thing 

worthy of great wonder. 


In the same year the foreign- 
ers, that is the Wicingi, col- 
lected a new army, and re- 
mained at Fulenham [Ful- 
ham], on the Thames. 

This year the sun was 


had promised, went to Ciren- 
ceastre, which is called in 
British speaking Cairceri, 
and there they remained the 

space of one year. 
In that same year an immense 
army of pagans came from 
countries beyond the sea to 
the river Thames : and join- 
ing the aforesaid band, be- 
came their accomplices, as is 
the way with the wicked. 

An eclipse took place that 

same vear between the 9th 

hour [d o'clock] and the 

evening [6 o'clock]. 

* See Aifer*! account of thii in 

The above named 
•nny of pagans left Ciren- 
cester, and went among the 
Eitt Angles, where they 
divided out the country and 
began to settle. 

The eamc year the army of 
pmns, which had wintered 
•t Falliam, left the island of 
Hkitain, and sailed over the 
Ml to the eastern part of 
fn^ce, where they remained 
% jear at a place called 
Oendi, i. e. Ghent. 

In the following year the 
aforesaid king Godrum left 
Cirencester, and went into 
East-Anglia, and obtained 
that land and divided it. 

In the same year, the army 

that was at Fulham crossed 

the sea, and remained at 

Ghent one year. 

CHARTERS xk 880. 1 . Ethslsbd 
duke of Mercia, subscribed also by 
" Alfred rex," " Ego Athelflaed 
conjunx [i. e. wife of duke Ethel- 
red]," and others. II, 107. 2. 
Ethxlwolv. II, 106. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 880, the d2nd from 
the birth of the glorious kine 
Elfred, the often-mentioned 
army of the pagans left Ciren- 
cestre and went to the East- 
Angles, and dividing that 
countiy began to inhabit it. 

The pagans, who wintered in 
Fulanhame, left the island 
of Britain, and went on a 
visit to take villainous know- 
ledge of France ; there they 
stayed one year. 

The aforesaid army 

In the following year they 

fought with the French and 

defeated them. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 881, the 33rd from 
the birth of king Elfred, the 
aforesaid army, mounting on 


3arn C^rimkU JUat «tljtlwrt 881 

then was the anny there 
honed after the battle. 

went higher up into France ; 
and the French fought against 
them ; and after the battle 
the pagans obtained horses 
and became an anny of 

the barbarians were put to 

CHARTERS IN 881. None. 

A. 882. 

Here the army went up along 

the banks of the Maese far 

into France, and there sate 

one year. 

And that same year king 
Alfred went out to sea with 
his ships, and fought against 
the forces of four ships of 
Danish^men, and took two of 
the ships, and the men were 
slain that were in them ; and 
the forces of two ships surren- 
dered to him, and they were 
sorely distressed and wound- 
ed before they surrendered 
to him. 

In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 882, the 34th 
of king Alfred's life, the 
above-named army steered 
their ships up into France by 
a river called the Mese 
[Meuse] and there wintered 
one year. 

In the same year Alfred, king 
of the Anglo-Saxons, fought 
a battle by sea against the 
pagan fleet, of which he cap- 
tured two ships, havine slam 
all who were on board ; and 
the two commanders of two 
other ships, with all their 
crews, custressed by the 
battle and the wounds which 
they had received, laid down 
their arms and submitted to 
the king. 

After a year the aforesaid 
army passed into the upper 
districts of the Maese and 
measured out their camp at 
a place called Escelun 

In the same year king Alfred 
put to sea and fell in with 
four ships ; which he defeat- 
ed, and destroyed two, the 
others surrendered. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


882 Jlmut 

of pagane went into France ; 
•nd the French fought aeainst 
them ; and after the battle 
the pagans obtained horses 
and became an army of 



horses, came into the borders 
of the French, which may 
appear wonderful, that the 
enemies dared shew them- 
selves against so brave and 

warlike a people. 
Then the French, with un- 
conquerable bravery, sallying 
manfully from the castles, 
and towns, cities and towers, 
were kindled with rage like 
lions, seeine the nefarious 
powers of the wicked men 
come forth, seeine the bad 
exult with joy and gladness, 
the good lie sunk in fear, the 
innocent mourn, the guilty 
to rejoice. Having taken 
wise counsel, the bold 
Frenchmen besan a most 
severe battle wim the pagans. 
At the end of whicn they 
returned in triumph : the pagans, having gained horses, 
gallopped this way and that. In those days manv monas- 
teries among the same nation were shaken and desolated. 
For the brethren, also, of the convent of the most blessed 
Benedict, takine with them his relics from the tomb 
where they had been placed in the greatest beauty, they 

travelled this way and that. 


above-named army steered 
their ahipa up into France by 
a river called Uie Mese 
[Msusb] and there wintered 
one year. 

In the same year Alfred 
a battle by sea against the 
psgan fleet, of which he cap- 
tured two ships, having slam 
iQ who were on board ; and 
^ two commanders of two 
other ships, with all their 
crewBy distressed by Uie 
btttle and the wounds which 
tbejr bad received, laid down 
their arms and submitted to 

the king. 


In the 3rd year, they went 
up the Maese into France. 

At which time king Alfred 

took 4 ships in a naval battle, 

and slew the men who were 

on board. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 882, the d4th from 
the birth of the glorious king 
Elfred, the army of pagans 
drew their shins up the river 
called the Mese into the 
country of the Frankish 
nation, and there wintered 

one year. 
In the same year, lastly, 
Elfred the brave king of the 
Saxons sustained by the 
naval battle of his leaders, 
engaged against the nagan 
ships by sea. Of which, he, 
on an equal footing, defeated 
2 ships by his powerful 
valour, and slew all who were 
in them. When he had de- 
feated them, this prince of 
princes gave due thanks to 

the Author of his safety. 
What then took place I 
will now relate. After this 
he severely wounded the prin- 
ces of the two ships with all 
their arms, with all their 
companions, who, helplessly 
laying down their arms, 
with bent thighs and suppliant prayers, ^ave themselves 
up to the great king, as long as the spark of vital heart 

should keep alive in them. 



Sam dfrmrick 

A. 883. 

Here the army went up the 

Scheld to Cond6, and sate 

there one year. 


In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 883, which was the 
35th of king Alfred's life, the 
aforesaid army went up the 
river called Scald [Scheldt] 
to a convent of nuns called 
Cundoht [Conde] and there 
remained a year. 

Ct^eloeri 883 

The next year the aforesttd 
army entered the parishes on 
the Scald, to a place called 
Cundath [Comd6 ;] and there 
measured out their camp for 
the winter. 

2 And that same year Sighelm 
and ^thelstan carried to 
Rome the alms which the 
king had vowed to send 


3 And also to India, to St 
Thomas and to St Bartholo- 
mew, when they sat down 
against the army at London. 

4 And there,thanks he to God, 
they lareely obtained the ob- 
ject of their prayer after the 


1 And Marinus the pope then 

sent ' li^um Dommi ' to 

kmg Alfred. 

18 And he sent him great 

gifts, and part of the ro^xl on 

which Christ suffered. 

17 Who, at the prayer of Al- 
fred kine of the West-Saxons, 
freed Qie Engluh school. 

CHARTERS nr 889. 1. Etrl- 
&KD aldermmn, subtcrtbed alio 'JE1> 
ftred rax hujus traditionii mnnifl- 
centiam ilgno lancUe crucis adflnDo' 
andbjrothen. 11,110. 

12 He also [pope Marinus] 
sent many gifts on that 
occasion, among which was 
no small portion of the holy 
and venerable cross on 
which our Lord Jesus Christ 
was suspended, for the 
general salvation of man- 
11 It was he who, in love for 
Alfred, kine of the Anglo- 
Saxons, ana at his request, 
freed the school of the Anglo- 
Saxons resident at Rome 
from all tribute and tax. 

. 19 He [pope Marihds] 

sent as a present part 

of the thrice blessed cross of 

Christ, who is the salvation of 

the world. 

18 Who 
also gave freedom to the 
school of the Englidi, by the 
appointment of king Amed. 

(5) A. 884. 
Here the army went up the 
Somme to Amiens, and there 

sate one year. 

6 This year the benevolent 

bishop ^thelwold died. 

16 And that same year died 
the good pope Marinus. 

1 In the year of our Lord's 

incarnation 884, which was 

the 36th of king Alfred's 


10 In the same year pope 

Martin, of blessed memory, 

went the way of all flesh. 

1 After 1 year had expired, 
that pestilential army afore- 
said removed to the higher 
districts of the Somme, to a 
place called Embenum [Aii- 
BiANi, Amiens], and there 

17 In the same year died the 
blessed pope Martin. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


8M /Urmt 



ifforesaid anny went up the 

mer called Scaldad, 

to a convent of nuns called 

Cundoht [Condb] and there 

remained a year. 


Asaer bishop of Sherborne 
died and was succeeded by 
Snithelm, who carried the 
ahns of king Alfred to St 
Thomas in India, and success- 
fully came back from thence. 

In the 4th year the army 

came to the Scat [SchbldtI 

in Cundoet [Cond^J, and 

there remained one year. 


In the following year, that is 
in 883, the 35th year from 
the birth of the most famous 
lung Elf red, that army, not 
to be named, drew their ships 
up the river called the Scald, 
and remained there one year. 

Guthred from a slave became 

a king. 
And the bishop's see is re- 
stored at Cunkecestra [Ches- 

2 And Alfred sent his alms to 
Rome, and also to Saint 
Thomas in India, according 
to a vow which he had made, 
when the hostile army win- 
tered at London. 

2 Pope Marinus. 
4 Who also then sent to 
the aforesaid king many 
nfts, among which lie gave 
him a no small portion of 
diat holy cross, on which our 
Lord Jesus Christ hung for 
the salvation of men. 

1 This vear pope Marinus sent 

to Alfred a piece of our 

Lord's cross. 

9 He [pope Marinus] sent 
to him [Alfred] many gifts, 
amone which was a piece of 
the blessed cross, on which 
our Lord Jesus Christ hung 
for the salvation of all man- 

3 He, for love of and at 
the request of Alfred king of 
tiie Angul-Sazons, kindly 
freed from all tribute and 
toU die school of the Saxons 
living at Rome. 

8 It was he who, for 1 ove of 
the benign king £lfred, set 
free the school of the Saxons, 
in the city of Rome, from all 

(1) 884. 
The aforesaid army of 
psgana entering the mouthlof 
the river Sunne, sailed up to 
Smbenoniy and there remain- 
ed one year. 

1 In the year of ourLord's in- 
carnation 884, the 36th from 
the birth of the famous king 

11 In the same year pope 

Martin, of blessed memory, 

went the way of all flesh. 

Then also died 

pope 7 At that time the prelate 

Marinus of blessed memory 

went the way of all flesh, 

yielding his breath to him 

from whom it came. 



(7) A. 885. 

8 Here the afore-mentioned 
army divided itself into two ; 
the one part went eastward, 
the other part to Rochester, 
and besieged the ci^, and 
wrought another fortress 
round themselves. 

9 And, notwithstanding this, 
the townsmen defended the 
city till king Alfred came 

out with his forces. 

10 Then went the army to 
their ships, and abandoned 
their fortress ; and they were 
there deprived of their horses, 
and soon after, in that same 

Bimimer, departed over sea. 

itVttlmni 885 

2 After a year they divide 
themselves into two parts : one 
to Lofenum, [Louvain] the 
other to Rochester ; and they 
laid siege to those towns. 

3 They also construct other 

smaller camps. 

4 Defeat prevails among the 
inhabitants until the arrival 
of king Alfred with an army. 
The foul plague was van- 
quished, and sought rein- 
lorcements. .... Some of 
them made for the sea-coasts. 
The same year they renewed 
their league, and gave hosta- 
ges to the English. 

1 1 And that same year king 
Alfred sent a fleet from 
Kent to East-Anglia, and 
as soon as they came to the 
mouth of the Stour, there 
met them sixteen ships of 
pirates ; and they fought 
against them, and captured 
all the ships and killed the 

12 As they afterwards return- 
ed home with the booty, a 
large fleet of pirates met 
them, and then fought against 
them that same day, and the 
Danish-men had the victory. 


2 The aforesaid army divided 

into two parts. 

3 One body of them went into 
East France, and the other 
coming to Britain entered 
Rent, where they besieged a 
city called in Saxon Roches- 
ter, and situated on the 
eastern bank of the river 
Medway. Before the ^ate of 
the town the pagans suddenly 
erected a strong fortress, but 
yet they were unable to take 
the city, because the citizens 
defended themselves bravely, 
until king Alfred came up to 
help them with a large army. 
Then the pagans abandoned 
their fortress, and all their 
horses which they had 
brought with them out of 
France, and leaving behind 
them in the fortress the 
greater part of their prisoners, 
on the arrival of the kin^, 
fled immediately to their 
ships, and the Saxons imme- 
diately seized on the prisoners 
and horses left by the pagans ; 
and so the pagans, compelled 
by stem necessity, returned 
the same summer to France. 
In the same year Alfred, 
king of the Anglo-Saxons led 
his fleet, full of fighting men, 
out of Kent to the coimtry of 
the East Angles, for the sake 
of plunder; and, when they 
had arrived at the mouth of 
the river Stour, immediately 
thirteen ships of the pagans 
met them,prepared for battle ; 
a fierce fight ensued, and all 
the pagans, after a brave 
resistance, were slain ; all 
the ships, with all their 

money, were taken. 

4 After this while the royal 9 The rest of the pirate-crew 
fleet were reposing, the met them; they ply their 
pagans, who lived in the oars, their armour shines 
eastern part of England, over the constrained waters, 
assemblea their ships, met the barbarians obtain the 
the same royal fleet at sea victory, 

in the mouth of the same 
river, and after a naval battle, 
the pagans gained the 

8 The same year, therefore, 
the aforesaid king Alfred sent 
his fleet into the country of 
the East Angles ; and imme- 
diately on their arrival, there 
met them at a place caUed 
Stourmouth sixteen ships, 
which they forthwith rava- 
ged, and slew the captains 
with the sword. 

1 3 The same year, before mid- 
win ter, Carl king of the 
French died; he was killed 

5 In the same year, also, 
Carloman, king of the West- 
em Franks, whilst hunting 

10 The same year died Chai^ 
les the magnificent king of 
the Franks, cut off by death 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


886 Jlnmt 

The aforesaid army divid- 
ed into two parts. 
One body of them went into 
East France, and the other 
coming to Britain entered 
Kent, where they besieeed a 
city called in Saxon Urof- 
ceastre and situated on the 
eastern bank of the river 
Medway. Before the sate of 
the town the pagans suddenly 
erected a strong fortress, but 
yet they were unable to take 
the d^, because the citizens 
defended themselves bravely, 
until king Alfred came up to 
help them with a large army. 
Thai the pagans abandoned 
theb fortress, and all their 
horses which they had 
brought with them out of 
France, and leaving behind 
them in the fortress the 
greater part of their prisoners, 
on the arrival of the kin^, 
fled immediately to their 
ships, and the Saxons imme- 
diately seixed on the prisoners 
and horses left by the pagans ; 
and so the pagans, compelled 
by stem necessity, returned 
the same summer to France. 
In the same year Alfied, 
king of the Anelo-Saxons, led 
bis fleet, full of fighting men, 
out of Kent to the country of 
the East Angles, for the sake 
of plunder; and when they 
baa arrived at the moutli of 
the river Stour, immediately 
nxteen ships of the pagans 
met them prepared for oattle ; 
t fierce fight ensued, and all 
the pagans, after a brave 
reflstance, were slain ; and all 
the ships, with all their 
money, were taken. 
After this while the royal 
fleet was returning, the 
pagans, who lived m the 
eastern part of England, 
assemblea their ships, met 
the same royal fleet at sea 
m the moutn of the same 
river, and after a naval battle, 
the pagans gained the 

Carioman, king of the West^ 
em Franks, whilst hunting 


] In the 14th year of king 
Alfred, part of the army 
which was in Gaul, came to 
Rochester : and besieging 
the city, began to make there 
another fortress : but at the 
kind's approach, they fled to 
then: ships and crossed the 

CHARTERS iv 885. Alp&ed 
king of Weasex, II, 112. It U with- 
out a date, and ia referred to aome 
year between 880 and 885. 

4 But, as they returned victo- 
rious and laden with spoils, 
they met a great host of the 
Wickings, and engaging in 
battle with them were de- 


2 That unworthy army 
divided itself into two bodies. 
One of them went into East- 
France, the other coming 
into Britain went into Kent 
[to a city] which is called 

3 Before its gate the pagans 
made a castle, and yet could 
not reduce the city ; for its 
citizens defended themselves 
manfully, until kiu^ Elf red 
the defender of all tne king- 
dom came up with a great 
army. On the arrival of the 
king, the Danes at once flee 
to their ships smitten with 
fear, leaving their fortress 
and the horses which they 
had brought with them from 
France, and the captives 
which they had taken from 
France of the same nation. 

2 But king Alfred sent a naval 
armament from Kent to 

East-Anglia : 

3 Wbo,when they had come 
to Stour-mouth, meeting 16 
ships of the Wickings, de- 
feated them in battle. 

5 The same year a boar slew 
Charles king of France, son 


4 At the same time and in 
the same year, that same 
armipotent King directed his 
fleet full of warriors from 
Kent to the East^Angies. 
And when he was come to 
the mouth of the river Sture, 
immediately 13 ships of the 
pagans, prepared for battle, 
met them, and fighting 
bravely on both sides, all the 
pagans were slain, and all 
the ships and money taken. 

5 But those of the 
Danes who were able to flee, 
collected their ships from all 
sides into one, and having 
joined in a sea-fight with the 
English, whilst they were 
sleeping in a lazy slumber, 
they [i. e. the English] were 
slain, an miarmed multitude : 
to whom may well be anpUed 
that which we read ; "Many 
shut their eyes, when they 
ought to be seeing." 



Stan Ci^roirtck 

by a wild boar; and one 
year before tbis, bis brotber 
died : be too bad tbe western 
kingdom : and tbey were 
both sons of Louis, wbo like- 
wise bad tbe western king- 
dom, and died tbat year wben 
tbe sun was eclipsed: be 
was son of Cbarles wbose 
daughter ^tbelwulf, king of 
tbe W est-Saxons, bad for bis 

14 And tbat same year a large 
fleet drew together against 
the Old-Saxons; and there 
was a great battle twice in 
tbat year, and the Saxons 
bad tbe victory, and the Fri- 
sians were there with them. 


the wild boar, was miserably 
killed by a large animal of 
that species, which inflicted a 
dreadlul wound on him with 
its tusk. 

6 His brother Louis [HI], 
wbo had also been king of 
the Franks, died the year 
before. These two brothers 
were sons of Louis, king of 
the Franks, who had died in 
tbe year above mentioned, in 
which the eclipse of the sun 
took place ; and it was he 
whose daughter Judith was 
eiven by her father's wish 
m marriape to Ethelwulf, 

kmg of the West Saxons. 

7 In the same year also a 
great army of the pagans 
came from Germany into 
the country of the ancient 
Saxons, which is called in 

Saxon Ealdseaxum. 

8 To oppose them the said 
Saxons and Prisons joined 
their forces, and fought 
bravely twice in that same 
year. In both those battles 
the Christians, with the mer- 
ciful aid of the Lord, obtain- 
ed the victory. 

aa^tlmi 885 

before tbe revolution of one 

10 After him came bis uterine 
brotber wbo ruled over tbe 
western coasts of Gaul. Tbey 
both were sons of Louis, wbo 
had formerly possessed the 
sole sovereignty : his life bad 
reached its termination dur- 
ing the eclipse of tbe sun 
aforesaid. He was son of 
the great king Charles, wbose 
daughter Ethelwulf king of 
the English bad token to 


11 In tbe course of tbat year,a 
great number of barbarians 
landed and filled the coasts 

of tbe Old Saxons. 
Two battles were fought soon 
after: the Saxons were the 
victors, and the Prisons also 
were present in the contest. 

15 Tbat same year Cbarles 
succeeded to the western 
kingdom, and to all the king- 
dom on this side the Wendel 
sea, and beyond this sea* in 
like manner as his ereat- 
grand-father had it, with the 
excention of the Lid-wiccas. 
Charles was Louis's son; 
Louis was Charles's brother, 
wbo was father of Judith, 
whom king Ethelwulf had ; 
and they were sons of Louis, 
Louis was sou of tbe elder 
Cbarles, Cbarles was Pippin's 

T The words In brackets are supplied 
..from the Annals. 

And tbat same year tbe army 

in the East-An^lia broke tbe 

peace with king .£lfred. 

9 In the same year also, 
Charles, king of the Almains, 
received, with universal con- 
sent, all tbe territories which 
lie between the Tyrrhenian 
sea and that gulf which runs 
between the old Saxons and 
tbe Gauls, except the king- 
dom of Armorica. 

This Charles was 
tbe son of king Louis, wbo 
was brother of Charles, king 
of the Franks, father of the 
aforesaid queen Judith ; these 
two brothers were sons of 
Louis, but Louis was tbe son 
of [the great, the ancient, and 
wise Charlemagne, who was 

the son of] Pepin.lf 

In the same year also the 
army of pagans, which dwelt 
am one the East- Angles, dis- 
gracefully broke the peace 
which tney had concluded 
with king Alfred. 

13 The same year Charles tbe 
Younger succeeded to tbe 
sovereignty of all the western 
parts of Gaul as far as the 
Tyrrhenian sea, and, if I may 
so speak, of the dominions of 
his grandfather, except the 

frovince of tbe Lichnccas 
Armorica or Bretagne]. 

14 His father was Lodvicut, 
brother of the middle Cbarles 
whose daughter was married 
to Ethelwulf king of the 


15 Both of these were sons 
of Lodwicus, namely, Lod- 
wicus was son of Charle- 
magne who was tbe son of 


In the course of that year, 
the above-named pestilential 
crew broke their engage- 
ments, and marched in arms 
against king Alfred. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


885 ^Intut 

the wild boar, was miserably 
killed by a large animal of 
that species, whieh inflicted a 
dreadtul wound on him with 
its tusk. 

His brother Louis [III], 
who had also been king of 
die Franks, died the 3rd year 
before. These two brothers 
were sons of Louis, king of 
the Franks, who had died in 
the year above mentioned, in 
which the eclipse of the sun 
took place; and it was he 
whose daughter Judith was 
^ven by her father's wish 
in marriage to iBtheluulf, 

king of the West Saxons. 

In the same year also a 

great army of the pagans 

came from Germany into 

the country of the ancient 


To oppose them the said 
Saxons and Prisons joined 
their forces, and fought 
bravely twice in that same 
year. In both those battles 
the Christians, with the mer- 
ciful aid of the Lord, obtain- 
ed the victory. 


of Louis, son of Charles the 

Bald, whose daughter Juhet 

[Judith] king Edelwulf had 



6 In that same year a great 
army of pagans came from 
Germany into the country of 
the Old Saxons ; against 
whom warlike men were 
gathered from all sides :rthat 
IS, Prisons and Saxons,' and 
foughfmanfully and bravely : 
in wLuch two battles the 
Christian people, by permis- 
sion of God's merciful piety, 
had the victory. 

In the same year also, 
Charles, king of the Almains, 
received, with universal con- 
sent, all the territories which 
lie between the Tjrrrhenian 
•ea and that gulf which runs 
between the old Saxons and 
the Gauls, except the king- 
dom of Armorica. 
This Charles was 
Uie ion of king Louis, who 
was brother of Charles, king 
of the Franks, father of the 
aforesaid queen Judith : these 
two brothers were sons of 
Louis, but Louis was the son 
of [the great, the ancient, and 
wise Charlema^e, who was 
the son of J Pepin.* 

In the same year also the 
army of pagans, which dwelt 
amone tne East-Angles, dis- 
gracenillj broke the peace 
which they had concluded 
with king Alfred. 

* Plorsnoe, copying Asser, omiti the 
words in brackets. 


3armi Ci^rimuk Jlsstc (tttjAmni 885 

Wherefore, to return to that 

from which I digressed, that 
I may not be compelled by my long navigation to abandon 
the port of rest which I was making for, I propose, as far as^ 
my knowledge will enable me, to speak of the life and cha- 
racter and just conduct of my lord Alfred, king of the 
Anglo-Saxons, after he married the above named respected 
ladv of Mercian race, his wife ; and, with God's blessing, I 
will despatch it succinctly and briefly, as I nromised, that I 
may not offend the delicate minds of my readers by prolixity 

in relating each new event. 
His nuptials were honourably celebrated in Mercia, among 
innumerable multitudes of people of both sexes ; and after 
continual feasts, both by nieht and by day, he was imme- 
diately seized, id presence of all the people, by sudden and 
overwhelming pain, as yet unknown to all the physicians ; 
for it was unknown to all who were then present, and even 
to those who daily see bim up to the present time, — which, 
sad to say !. is the worst of all/ that he should have protracted 
it so long from the twentieth to the fortieth year of his life, 
and even more than that througl^ the space of so many years, — 
from what cause so great a muady arose. For many thought 
that this was occasioned by the favour and fascination of 
the people who surrounded iiim ; others, by some spite of the 
devu, who is ever jealous of the good ; others, from an un- 
usual kind of fever. 
He had this sort of severe disease from his childhood ; but 
once, divine Providence so ordered it, that when he was on a 
visit to Cornwall for the sake of hunting, and had turned out 
of the road to pray in a certain chapel, in which rests the 
body of Saint Guerir, and now also St Neot rests there, — 
for king Alfred was always from his infancy a frequent 
visitor of holy places for the sake of prayer and almsgiving, — 
he prostrated nimself for private aevotion, and, after some 
time spent therein, he entreated of God's mercy, that in his 
boundless clemency he would exchange the torments of the 
malady which then afflicted him for some other lighter 
disease; but with this condition, that such disease should 
not show itself outwardly in hia body, lest he should be an 
object of contempt, and less able to benefit mankind ; for he 
had a great dread of leprosy or blindness, or any such com- 
plaint, as makes men useless or contemptible when it afflicts 
them. When he had finished his prayers, he proceeded on 
his ioumey, and not long after he felt within him that by 
the hand of the Almighty he was healed, according to his 
request, of his disorder, and that it was entirely eradicated, 
although he had first had even this complaint m the flower 
of his youth, by his devout and pious prayers and supplica- 
tions to Almienty God. 
For if I may be allowed to speak briefly, but in a somewhat 
preposterous order, of bis zealous piety to God, in the flower 
of his youth, before he entered the marriage state, he wished 
to strengthen his mind in the observance of God's command- 
ments, tor he perceived that he could with difficulty abstain 
from gratifying his carnal desires ; and, because he feared 
the anger of God, if he should do anything contrary to his 
will, he used often to rise in the morning at the cock-crow, 
and go to pray in the churches and at the relics of the saints. 
I'here he prostrated himself on the ground, and prayed that 
God in his mercy would strengthen his mind still more in 
his service by some infirmity such as he might bear, but not 
such as would render him imbecile and contemptible in his 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 85 

885 Jinmt iTOtligbim $\mn 

I Thii pmmph, tofretbcr with 
thote which follow, marked 1, X, 3, 
4, 5, 6. 7, are rfven hy Florence in 
171, immediately following the words 



f 2 Once, divine Providence so 
ordered it, that when he was on 

a visit to Cornwall for the sake of hunting, and had turned out 
of the road to pray in a certain chapel, in which rests the 
body of Saint Guerir, and now also St Noet rests there, 
he prostrated himself for private devotion, and, after some 
time spent therein, he entreated of God's mercy, that in his 
boundless clemency he would exchange the torments of the 
malady which then afflicted him for some other lighter 
disease ; but with this condition, that such disease should 
not show itself outwardly in his body, lest he should be an 
object of comtempt, and less able to benefit mankind ; 

when he had finished his prayers, he proceeded on 
his journey, and not long after he felt within him that by 
the hand of the Almighty he was healed, according to his 
request, of his disorder, and that it was entirely eradicated. 

1 In the flower 
of his youth, he wished 
to strengthen his mind in the observance of God's command- 
ments, but he perceived that he could with difficulty abstain 
from gratifying his carnal desires and, because he feared 
the anger of God, if he should do anything contrary to his 
will, he used often to rise in the morning at the cock-crow, 
and go to pray in the churches and at the relics of the saints. 
There he prostrated himself on the ground, and prayed that 
God in his mercy would strengthen his mind still more in 
his service by some infirmity such as he might bear, but not 
fuch as would render him imbecile and contemptible in lus 



Sam Ci|r0ttkk 


(tVttlmni 88£ 

worldly duties ; and when he 
had often prayed with much 
devotion to this effect, after an interval of some time, Provi- 
dence vouchsafed to afflict him with the above-named disease 
which he bore long and painfully for many years, knd even 
despaired of life, until he entirely got rid of it b^ his prayers ; 
but, sad to say ! it was replaced, as we have said, at nis mar- 
riage by another which incessantly tormented him, night 
and day, from the twentieth to the forty-fourth year of nis 
life. But if ever, by God*s mercy, he was relieved from this 
infirmity for a single day or night, yet the fear and dread of 
that dreadful malady never left nim, but rendered him almost 
useless, as he thought, for every duty, whether human or 

The sons and daughters, which he had by his wife above 
mentioned were ^thelfloed the eldest, after whom came Ead- 
werd, then ^thelgeofu, then ^Ifthryth, and ^thelweard, 
besides those who died in their infancy, one of whom was 
Edmund.* £thelfled,when she arrived at a marriageable age, 
was united to Eadred, earl of Mercia ; ^thelgeom also was 
dedicated to God, and submitted to the rules of a monastic 
life. iEthelweard the younge8t,by the divine counsels and the 
admirable prudence of the Kine, was consigned to the schools 
of learning, where, with the children of ^most all the nobi- 
lity of the country, and many also who were not noble, he 
prospered under tne diligent care of his teachers. Books in 
Doth languages, namely, Latin and Saxon, were both read in 
the school. They also learned to write ; so that before they 
were of an age to practice manly arts, namely, hunting and 
such pursuits as befit noblemen, they became studious and 
clever in the liberal arts. Eadwerd and ^Ifthrvth were bred 
up in the king's court and received great attention from their 
attendants and nurses ; nay, they continue to this day, with 
the love of all about them, and snowing affability, and even 
gentleness towards all, both natives and foreigners, and in 
complete subjection to their father ; nor, among their other 
studies which appertain to this life and are fit for noble 
youths, are they suffered to pass their time idly and unprofit- 
ably without learning the liberal arts ; for they have carefully 
learned the Psalms and Saxon books, especially the Saxon 
poems, and are continually in the habit of making use of 

In the meantime, the king, during the frequent wars and 
other trammels of this present lue, the invasions of the 
pagans, and his own daily infirmities of body, continued to 
carry on the government, and to exercise hunting in all its 
branches; to teach his workers in gold and artificers of all 
kinds, his falconers, hawkers and dog-keepers ; to build houses 
majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his ances- 
tors, by his new mechi^iical inventions ; to recite the Saxon 
books, and especially to learn by heart the Saxon poems, and 
to make others learn them ; ana he alone never desisted from 
studying, most diligently, to the best of his ability ; he attend- 
ed the mass and other aaily services of reli^on ; he was fre- 
auent in psalm-singing and prayer, at the hours both of 
le day and the night. He also went to the churches, as we 
have already said, in the night-time to pray, secretly, and 
unknown to nis courtiers ; he bestowed alms and largesses on 
both natives and foreigners of all countries ; he was affable 
and pleasant to all, and curiously eager to investigate things 

Many Franks, Friaons, Gauls, pagans, Britons, Scots, and 

* The word Edmund is supplied 

irom Rudbome's Chronicle, a ltt» 


FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


885 /btttrt 



worldly duties ; and when he 
had often prated with much 

devotion to this effect, after an interval of some time, Provi- 
dence vouchsafed to afflict him with the disease of the Hg 
which he hore long and painfully for many years, and even 
despaired of life. 
3 But, sad to say ! it was replaced at his mar- 
ria^ by another which incessantly tormented him, night 
and day, from the twentieth to the twenty-fifth year of nis 
life and longer. 
4 The sons and 
daughters, which he had hy his wife Ealhswith above 
mentioned, were iElgelfled the eldest, after whom came Bad- 
ward, then iEthelgeovu, then Alfthrith and ^thelward. 

iEthelfled, when she arrived at a marriageable age, 
was united to ^thered, earl of Mercia ; ^thelgeofu also was 
dedicated to God, and submitted to the rules of a monastic 
life. JBthelwerd the youngest, by the divine counsels and the 
admirable prudence of the King, was consigned to the schools 
of learning, where, with the children of almost all the nobi- 
lity of the country, and many also who were not nohle, he 

prospered under the diligent care of his teachers ; 

so that before they 

were of an age to practice manly arts, 

they became studious and 

clever in the liberal arts. Eadward and Alfthrith were bred 

up in the king's court, 

not without leamine the liberal arts ; for among other stu- 
dies of Uiis life, they have carefully 
ksrned the Psalms and Saxon books, especially the Saxon 

Now there were bom to the 
king sons and daughters suf- 
ficiently beautiful and of be- 
coming form, whose names 
are here gathered ; Eadward 
and Ethelward, Ethelfled 
and Ethelgifu, and Elfthrid. 
But Eadward the king's son, 
and Ealf thrid his sister, were 
always brought up at the 
king s court by the great care 
of their male and female 
tutors: for they studiously 
learnt both the psalms 
and the Saxon books and 
poems. Ethelward therefore 
his younger son, was placed 
in the schools of literary dis- 
cipline, with many sons of 
the soldiers, both noble and 
ignoble. Ethelfled their sis- 
ter was united in marriage to 
Eadred prince of the Mer- 
cians ; their sister Etbelgyfa 
was placed under the rules 
of the monastic life. 

5 In the meantime, king, Alfred during the frequent wars and 
other trammels of this present life, the invasions of the 
pagans, and his own daily infirmities of body, continued to 
carry on the government, and to exercise hunting in all its 
branches ; to teach his workers in gold and artificers of all 
kinds, his falconers,hawkers and dog-keepers ; to build houses 
majestic and good, beyond all the precedents of his ances- 
tors, by his new mechanical inventions; to recite the Saxon 
books, and especially to learn bv heart the Saxon poems, and 
to make others learn them ; and he alone never desisted from 
studying, most diligently, to the best of his ability ; he attend- 
ed the mass and o3ier daily services of religion ; he was fre- 
quent in psalm-singing and prayer, at the hours both of 

the day and the night. He also went to the churches, 

in the night-time to pray, secretly, and 

unknown to his courtiers ; he oestowed alms most largely, 

he was affable 

and pleasant to all, and curiously eager to investigate things 


6 Many Franks Frisoni^ Gauls, pagans, Britons, ScoU, and 


Armoricans, noble and igno- 
ble, submitted voluntarily to 
bis dominion ; and all of tbem, according to their nation and 
deservmg, were ruled, loved, honoured, and enriched with 

money and power. 
Moreover, the king was in the habit of hearing the scriptures 
read by his own countrymen, or, if by anv chanee it so 
happened, in company with foreigners, and he attended to 
it with sedulity and solicitude. His bishops, too, and all 
ecclesiastics, his earls and nobles, ministers and friends, were 
loved by him with wonderful affection, and their sons, who 
were bred up in the royal house-hold, were no less dear to 
him than his own ; he had them instructed in all kinds of 
good morals, and among other things, never ceased to teach 
them letters night and day ; but as if he had no consolation 
in all these things, and suffered no other annoyance either 
from within or without, yet he was harassed by dailv and 
nightly affliction, that he complained to God, and to afi who 
were admitted to his familiar love, that Almighty God had 
made him ignorant of divine wisdom, and of the liberal arts ; 
in this emulating the pious, the wise, and wealthy Solomon, 
king of the Hebrews, who at first, despising all glory and 
riches, asked wisdom of God, and found both, namely, 
wisdom and worldly elory ; as it is written, " Seek first the 
kingdom of God and nis righteousness, and all these things 
shaU be added unto you. But God, who is always the 
inspector of the thoughts of the mind within, and the insti- 
gator of all good intentions, and a most plentiful aider, that 
good desires may be formed, — for he would not instigate a 
man to good intentions, unless he also amply supplied that 
which the man justly and properly wishes to have, — insti- 
gated the king's mind witnin ; as it is written, '* I will 

hearken what the Lord God will say concerning me." 
He would avail himself of every opportunity to procure 
coadjutors in his good designs, to aid him in his strivings 
after wisdom, that he might attain to what he aimed at; 
and, like a prudent bird, which rising in summer with 
the early morning from her beloved nest, steers her rapid 
flight through the uncertain tracks of ether, and descends 
on the manifold and varied flowers of grasses, herbs, and 
shrubs, essaying that which pleases most, that she may bear 
it to her home, so did he direct his eyes afar, and seek 
without, that which he had not within, namely, in his own 

But God at that time, as some consolation to the king's 
benevolence, yielding to his complaint, sent certain lights 
to illuminate nim, namely, Werefrith, bishop of the church 
of Worcester, a man well versed in divine scripture, who, 
by the king's command, first turned the books of the 
Dialogues of pope Gregory and Peter, his disciples, from 
Latin into Saxon, and sometimes putting sense for sense, 
interpreted them with clearness and elegance. After him 
was Plegmund, a Mercian by birth, archbishop of the church 
of Canterbury, a venerable man, and endowed with wisdom ; 
iEthelstan also, and Werewulf his priests and chaplains, Mer- 
cians by birth, and erudite. These four had been invited out 
of Mercia by king Alfred, who exalted them with many 
honours and powers in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, 
besides the privileges which archbishop Plegmund and bishop 
Werefrith enjojed in Mercia. By theur teaching and wisdom 
the king's desires increased unceasingly, and were gratified. 
Kight and day, whenever he had leisure, he commanded such 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

885 fitttm 



Aimoricans, noble and igno- 
ble, flabmitted voluntarily to 

bit dominion ; and all of them, according to their dignity, 

like his own folk, were ruled, loved, honoured, and ennched 

with money and power. 

His bishops, too, and all 

ecclesiastics, his earls and nobles, ministers and friends, were 

loved by him with wonderful affection, and their sons, who 

were bred up in the royal house-hold, were no less dear to 

him than his own ; he had them instructed in all kinds of 

good morals, and among other things, never ceased to teach 

them letters night and day. 

* thk paitsge trith the 3 fd 
fatff, !• given in Florence in 871. 

• He [Werfrith] 

bv the kine's command, first turned the books of the 

IMalogues of pope Gregory from 

Latin into Saxon, 

with clearness and elegance. He and in process of time 

Plegmund, a Mercian bv birth, archbishop of the church 

of Canterbury, a venerable man, and endowed with wisdom ; 
iBthelstan also, and Werewulf his priests, Mer- 
cians by birth, and erudite, bad been invited out 

of Mercia bv king Alfred, who exalted them with many 

honours and powers to help him in gaining the learning 

which he so longed for. 

8 By their teaching and wisdom 

the king's desires increased unceasingly, and were gratified. 



tn those times the church of 
Christ was faithfully and 
gloriously ruled by arch- 
bishop Plegmund, a venera- 
ble man, who shone in the 
fruits of wisdom, being built 
upon four columns, of justice 
namely, prudence, tempe- 
rance, and fortitude. 
At the same time, Warfrid 
with devoutness of heart, was 
ennobling the rule of the city 
of Worcester. He it was, 
who by order and request of 
the king turned Gregory's 
book of Dialogues into the 
Saxon tongue: and some- 
times interpreted it most ele- 
gantly, sense from sense. 
Also Lthelstan and Werwlf 
were distinguished priests 
whom he [Alfred] invited 
to him out of Mercia, because 
that they were exceedingly 
and thoroughly superior in 
the learning of the divine 
law : be loved and honoured 
them with especial love ; and 
by their learning and erudi- 



Sruron €\txmcU 


Ct^eloetk 885 

men as these to read books to him , for he never suffered 
himself to be without one of them, wherefore he possessed a 
knowledge of every book, though of himself he could not 
yet understand anything of books, for he had not yet learned 

to read any thing. 
But the king's commendable avarice could not be ratified 
even in this ; wherefore he sent messengers beyond the sea 
to Gaul, to procure teachers, and he invited from thence 
Grimbald,* priest and monk, a venerable man, and good 
singer, adorned with every kind of ecclesiastical discipline 
and good morals, and most learned in holy scripture. He 
also obtained from thence John, f also priest and monk, a man 
of most energetic talents, and learned in all kinds of literary 
science, and skilled in many other arts. By the teaching of 
these men the king's mind was much enlarged, and he en- 
riched and honoured them with much influence. 
In these times, I also came into Saxonv out of the furthest 
western coasts of Britaint ; and when I had proposed to eo 
to him through many intervening provinces, 1 arrived in the 
country of the Saxons, who live on the right hand, which in 
Saxon is called Sussex, under the guidance of some of that 
nation ; and there I first saw him in the royal vill, which is 
called Dene. ^ He received me with kindness, and among 
other familiar conversation, he asked me eagerly to devote 
myself to his service and become his friend, to leave every 
thmg which 1 possessed on the left, or western bank of the 
Severn, and he promised he would give more than an equi- 
valent for it in iiis own dominions. I replied that I could 
not incautiously and rashly promise such things; for it 
seemed to me unjust, that I should leave those sacred 
places in which I had been bred, educated, and crowned, |) 
and at last ordained, for the sake of any earthly honour and 
power, unless by compulsion. Upon this, he said, '* If you 
cannot accede to this, at least, let me have your service in 
part : spend six months of the year with me here, and the 
other six in Britain." To this 1 replied, " I could not even 
promise that easily or hastily without the advice of my 
friends." At length, however, when I perceived that he was 
anxious for my services, though I knew not why, I promised 
him that, if my life was spared, I would return to him after 
six months, with such a reply as should be apeeable to him 
as well as advantageous to me and mine. With this answer 
he was satisfied^ and when 1 had given him a pledge to return 
at the appointed time, on the fourth day we left him and 
returned on horseback towards our own country. 
After our departure, a violent fever seized me in the city 
of Winchester, where 1 lay for twelve months and one week, 
night and day, without hope of recovery. At the appointed 
time, therefore, I could not fulfil my promise of visiting him 
and he sent messengers to hasten my journey, and to inquire 
the cause of my delay. As I was unable to ride to him, I 
sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay, 
and assure him that, if I recovered from my infirmity, I 
would fulfil what I had promised. My complaint left me, 
and by the advice and consent of all my friends, for the 
benefit of that holy place, and of all who dwelt therein, 
I did as I had promised to the king, and devoted myself 
to his service, on the condition that I should remain with 
him six months in every year, either continuously, if I 
could spend six months with him at once, or alternately, 
three months in Britain and three in Saxony. § For my 
friends hoped that they should sustain less tribulation and 

* Grimbald wu provoft of flt 

t John had been connected with 
the monastery of Corbie. 

I L e. Walks. 

% East Dene [or Dean] and West 
Dene are two villages near Chiches- 
ter. There are also other villages*of 
the same name near East-Bourne. 

11 This expression alludes to the 
tonsure, which was undergone bj 
those who became clerks. 

i The original Latin continues, 
" Et ilia adjuvaretur per rudimenta 
Sancti Degui in omni causa, tamen 
pro viribus," which I do not under^ 
•tand,and therefore cannot translate. 

FROM A. D 849 TO 901. 91 

885 /limrr Imrtioglimi 3tmtoit 

tion that pacific king was 

magnified above all the kings 

of the earth. 

I. He also sent messengers beyond the sea 
to Gaul, to procure teachers, and he invited from thence, 
Grimbald, priest and monk, a venerable man, and good 
singer, adorned with every kind of ecclesiastical discipline 
ana good morals, and most learned in holy scripture. He 
also obtained from thence John, also priest and monk, a man 
of most energetic tdents. 

2 Asser also came into Saxony out of the furthest 
western coasts of Britain, 
from the monastery of St Dewi. 



3rurmi Clfrinrirtt 


harm from king Hemeid, * who often plundered that monas- 
tery and the parish of St Deguus, f and sometimes expelled 
the prelates, as they expelled archhishop Novis,! my relation, 
and myself ; if in any manner I could secure ^e notice and 

fnendship of the king. 
At that time, and Ion? before, all the countries on the right 
hand side of Britain belonged to king Alfred and still be- 
long to him. For instance, king Hemeid, with all the 
inhabitants of the region of Demetia, compelled by the vio- 
lence of the six sons of Rotri, had submitted to the dominion 
of the king. Houil also, son of Ris, king of Gleguising, 
and Brochmail and Femmail, sons ofMouric, kings of Gwent, 
compelled by the violence and t3n'anny of earl Eadred and 
of the Mercians, of their own accord sought king Alfred, 
that they might enjoy his government ana protection from 
him against their enemies. Helised, abo, son of Teudyr, 
king of Brecon, compelled by the force of the same sons of 
Rotri, of his own accord sought the government of the afore- 
said king; and Anaraut, son of Rotri, with his brothers, at 
length abandoning the friendship of the Northumbrians, 
from which he received no eood but harm, came into king 
Alfred's presence and eageny sought his friendship. The 
king received him honourably, admitted him as his son by 
connrmation from the bishop s hand, and presented him with 
many gifts. Thus he became subject to the king with all 
his people, on the same condition, that he should be obedient 
to the king's will in all respects, in the same way as ^thered 

with the Mercians. 
Nor was it in vain that all these princes gained the 
friendship of the king. For those who desired to augment 
their worldy power, obtained power; those who desired 
money, gainea money ; and in like way, those who desired 
his fnendship, or both money and friendship, succeeded in 
getting what they wanted. But all of them gained his love 
and guardianship and defence from every quarter, even as the 

king with his men could protect himself. 
When therefore I had come into his presence at the royal 
vill, called Leonaford, I was honourably received by him, and 
remained that time with him at his court eight months ; during 
which I read to him whatever books he liked, and such as we 
had at hand ; for this is his most usual custom, both night 
and day, amid his many other occupations of mind and body, 
either nimself to read books, or to listen whilst others read 
them. And when ._ I frequently asked his leave to depart, 
and could in no way obtain it, at length when I had made 
up my mind by all means to demand it, he called me to 
him at twilight, on Christmas eve, and gave me two letters, 
in which was a lonff list of all the things which were in 
two monasteries, called in Saxon, Angresburyf and Banu- 
wille ; fl and on that same day he delivered to me those two 
monasteries with all the things that were in them, and a silken 
p^l of great value, and a load for a strong man of incense, 
adding these words, that he did not give me these trifling 
presents, because he was unwilling hereafter to give me 

f -eater ; for in the course of time he unexpectedly gave me 
xeter, with all the diocese which belonged to him in Saxony § 
and in Cornwall, besides eifts every day without number in 
every kind of worldly weuth, which it would be too long to 
enumerate here, lest they riiould make my reader tired. 
But let no one suppose that I have mentioned these pre- 
sents in this place for the sake of glory or flattery, or to 
obtain greater honour. I call God to witness, that I have 

Ct^tlirrt 81 

* A petty prince of South Wale 
t Or St Dewi. Prol»bly by tl 
pariih of St Deguus ii meant t] 
diocese of St David's. Hence it 
said, that Alfred gave to Asser C 
whole parish (omnis parochia) 
{ Archbishop of St Darid's . 

f One MS. has Cungresbury- 
place near Banwell. 
I Banwell in Somersetshire. 

f Wessez. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 93 

885 Jliom Itithigbit $imn 

FiAitiCB, HmrmrvMnr, avb 8immv aeb iiLSirT ov tri iubisct of Aiii&'t urTKosvcnoN to kiit* 




S(ff(ni ClitomrU 


dtiftlmxi 885 

not done so ; but that I might certify to those who are igno- 
rant, how profuse he is in nTing. He then at once gave 
me permission to ride to those two rich monasteries and 
afterwards to return to my own country. 

A. 886. 

Here the army, which before 
had drawn eastward, went 
westward again, and thence 
up the Seine, and there took 
up their winter quarters near 
the town of Paris. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation, 886, which was 
the thirty-eighth since the 
birth of Alfred, the army so 
often beforementioned again 
fled the country, and went 
into the coimtry of the West- 
em Franks, directinfi; their 
ships to the river called the 
Seine, and sailed up it as far 
as the city of Paris, and there 
they wintered and measured 
out their camp. They be- 
sieged that city a whole year, 
as far as the bridge, that they 
might prevent the inhabitants 
from making use of it ; for 
the city is situated on a small 
island in the middle of the 
river; but by the merciful 
favour of Goo, aod the brave 
defence of the citizens, the 
army could not force their 

way inside the walls. 
In the same year, iBlfred, 
king of the Anglo-Saxons, 
after the burning of cities 
and the sla3ring of the people, 
honourably rebuilt the city 
of London, and made it 
again habitable. He gave it 
into the custody of his son- 
in-law, ^thered, earl of 

To which king all the 
Angles and Saxons, who 
before had been dispersed 
everywhere, or were in cap- 
tivity with the pagans, 
voluntarily turned and sub- 
mitted themselves to his 

* [In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord 
at Oxford, between Grymbold, with those learned men whom 
he had brought with him, and the old scholars whom he had 
found there, who, on his arrival, refused altogether to em- 
brace the laws, modes, and forms of prselection instituted by 
the same Grymbold. During three years there had been no 
great dissension between them, but there was a secret enmity 
which afterwards broke out with great atrocity, clearer than 
the light itself. To appease this quarrel, that invincible king 
Alfred, having been informed of the strife by a messenger 
from Grymbold, went to Oxford to put an end to the contro- 
versy, and endured much trouble in hearing the arguments 
and complaints which were brought forwards on both sides. 
The substance of the dispute was this : the old scholars con- 

That same year king ^fred 
repaired London; and all 
the English submitted to him, 
except those who were under 
the bondage of the Danish- 
men ; and then he committed 
the town to the care of alder- 
man ^thered. 

Lastly, after a year, they 
went to the lower parts of 
Gaul, and fixed on a place 
to winter near the river 

Meanwhile, the city of Lon- 
don was besieged by king 

Whom no civil discord could 
subdue, either by cunning or 
by force : all men received 
him as a saviour, and parti- 
cularly the Saxons— -except 
the barbarians, and those 
who were then held prisoners 

in their hands. 
Also, after his army was 
strengthened, iEthred was 
appointed leader there by the 
aforesaid king, to guard the 

* The whole of this iwragnph 
ooneerniDg Oxford is thought to be 
an interpolation, because it is not 
known to have existed in more than 
one MS. copy. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


886 /Imict 



The arm J of pagans so 
often beforementioned again 
left Ea»t France, and went 
iflto the country of the West- 
ern Franks, 
mto the river called the 
Seine, and sailed up it as far 
u the cit J of Paris, and there 
they wintered. 
They be- 
sieged that city a whole year, 
but by the merciful 
favour of God, 
the army 
could not force their way 
inside the walls. 

In the following year, the 

army of the Danes came up 

the Seine to the bridge at 

Paris, and there wintered. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 886, the 38th from 
the birth of the glorious king 
Elfred, that army of Danes 
not to be named came again 
into the country of the 
Western French, and came 
to land in the river called 
Sigene [Seine]. They also 
went to Paris, and wintered 
there, cutting off the tho- 
roughfare of the bridge from 
the inhabitants. But by the 
true support of God, and the 
valour 01 the citizens in de- 
fending themselves, they 
could not break into that 

hi the same year Alfred, 
king of the Anglo-Saxons, 
after the burning of cities 
and die slaying of the people, 
iKmombly rebuilt the citv 
of London, and made it 
again habitable. He save it 
into the custody of his son- 
m-lmr, -fithered, earl of 
To wbich king all the 
Angles and Saxons, who 
before had been dispersed 
everywhere, or were in cap- 
tivity with the pagans, 
voluntarily turned and sub- 
mitted themselves to his 

King Alfred besieged Lon- 
don, because a great force of 
Danes had pursued the 

French army. 
All the English at once sub- 
mitted to him and admitted 
him; for the Danes had 

But the king gave the city 
into the care of duke ^dred. 

At the same time the 
king of the English, after the 
burning of cities, and the 
slaughter of people, honour- 
ably rebuilt and made habi- 
table the great city of Lon- 
don, which he gave into the 
ward of Ethelred the illus- 
trious duke of the Mercians. 
But all men, both Angles and 
Saxons, who had before been 
dispersed here and there with 
the pagans or set free from 
captivity, came freely into 
the king's presence, submit- 
tine themselves voluntarily 
to his dominion. And he, as 
he was of a most merciful 
mind, indulged to all the 
patronage of his benignity. 



Sorit C!|t0ttkU 


Ct^Upnl 886 

tended, that literature had flourished at Oxford before the 
coining of Crrymbold, although the number of scholars was 
smaller than in ancient times, because many had been driven 
away by the cruelty and tyranny of the pagans. They also 
proved and showed, by the unaoubted testimony of ancient 
annals, that the orders and institutions of that place had 
been sanctioned by certain pious and learned men, as for 
instance by Saint Gildas, Melsinus, Nennius, Kentigem, and 
others, who had all grown old there in literature, and happily 
administered everything there in peace and concord ; and 
also, that Saint Germanus had come to Oxford, and stopped 
there half a year, at the time when he went through Britain 
to preach against the Pelagian heresy ; he wonderfully ap- 
proved of the customs and institutions above-mentioned. 
The king, with unheard of humility ylistened to both sides care- 
fully, and exhorted them again and again with pious and 
wholesome admonitions to cnerish mutual love and concord. 
He therefore left them with this decision, that each party 
•hould follow their own counsel, and preserve their own 
institutions. Grymbold, displeased at this, immediately de- 
parted to the monastery at Winchester,^ which had been 
recently founded by king Alfred, and ordered a tomb to be 
carried to Winchester, in which he proposed, after this life, 
that his bones should be laid in the vault which had been 
made under the chancel of St Peter's church in Oxford; 
which church the same Grymbold had built from its foun- 
dations, of stone polished with great care.] 

A. 887. 

Here the army went up 
through the bridge atPaiis, 
and thence up alone the 
Seine as far as the Mame, 
and thence up the Mame to 
Chezy, and tnen sat down, 
there, and on the Yonne, 
two winters in the two places. 

In the year of our Lord's in- 
carnation 887, which was tbe 
thirty-ninth of king Alfred's 
life, the above mentioned 
army of the pagans, leavinff 
the city of Pans uninjured, 
because they could not suc- 
ceed against it, sailed up the 
river Seine under the bridge, 
until they reached the mouth 

of the river Mateme 
[Marne] ; where they left 
the Seine, and, following 
for a long time the course 
of the Mame, at length, but 
not without much labour, 
they arrived at a place called 
Caziei, a royal vill, where 

they wintered one year.f 

t Here follows the lenience Iv 
VBx roLLOwixo TXAK ftc. given 
under 8S8 at the end of ABser. 

t Hyde Abbey. 

Now the army, which were at 
that time ravaging the coun- 
try of Gaul, cut their way 
through the bridee of the dtar 
del ^Paris, and deyaiUted 
the whole country along the 
Seine, as far as the Mame, 
and above its vertex, as far 
as Catsig LCHMv],whcre they 
thrice fixed their winter 

And that same year Charles 
king of the French died ; and 
six weeks before he died, 
Eamulf his brother's son 
bereaved him of the king^ 

In the same year Charles, 
king of the Franks, went the 
way of all flesh ; but Araulf, 
his brother's son, six weeks 
before he died, had expelled 
him from his kincdom. After 
his death five kings were 

In the same year also died 
Charles, king of the Franks, 
and his cousin Amulf suc- 
ceeded to the kinedom, seven 
weeks before his unde's 

887 /licnct 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 




The above mentioned 
may of the pagans, leavinff 
the city of Pans uninjured, 
becaoae they could not other- 
vise provide for themselves, 

lafled up the 
river Sone under the bridge, 
until they reached the mouth 

of the river Mateme 

SiIarne] ; where they left 
e Seine, and, following 
for a long time the course 
of the Mame, at length, but 
not without much labour, 
they arrived at^a^place called 
Chezy, i. e. a royal vill, where 
they wintered one yeari 

In the following yeaf, the 
army, leaving the bridge at 
Paris, went up the Seine as 
far as the Mame, and up the 
Mame as far as Cadzi, and 
they dwelt there and in 
lonnc* two years* 

* Noticed more fully by the othtr 
chroniclers : te« in 8B8. 

6 In the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 887, the 39th 
from the birth of the illus- 
trious king Elfred, the afore- 
said army, leaving that city of 
Paris, came to the Seine, 
thence to the mouth of the 
river called the Materre and 
then to a place called Caziei, 
i. e. a royal vill : in which 
place they wintered a whole 

In the same year Charles^ 
king of the Franks, went the 
way of all flesh ; but Amulff 
his brother's son, six weeks 
before he died, had expelled 
him from his kingdom. After 
hia death five kings were 





Sorit Ci|t0tkU 

And then was that kingdom 
divided into five, and five 
kings were consecrated there- 
to. This, however, was done 
hy permisfflon of Eamulf: 
and they said that they would 
hold it from his hand, because 
none of them on the father's 
aide was bom thereto except 
him alone. Eamulf then 
dwelt in the land east of the 
Rhine: and Rothulf then 
succeeded to the middle king- 
dom, and Oda to the western 
part, and Beoraear and 
Witha to the land of the 
Lombards and to the lands 
on that side of the mountain : 
and that they held in great 
discord, ana fought two 
general battles, and oft and 
many times laid waste the 
land, and each repeatedly 
drove out the otner. 

And that same year that the 
army went up beyond the 
bridge at Paris, alderman 
^thelhelm carried the alms 
of the West-Saxons and of 
king iEIfred to Rome. 


appointed, and the kingdom 
was split into five parts ; but 
the principal ranx in the 
kingaom justly and deserv- 
edly devolved on Eamulf, 
save only that he committed 
an unworthy offence against 
his uncle. The other four 
kings promised fidelity and 
obedience to Eamulf, as was 
proper; for none of these 
four kings was hereditary on 
his father's side in his share 
of the kingdom, as was Ear- 
nulf; therefore, though the 
five kings were appointed 
immediately on the death of 
Charles, ^et the empire re- 
main^ m the hands of 

Such, then, was the division 
of the kingdom ; Eamulf re- 
ceived the countries on the' 
east of the river Rhine; 
Hroththwlf [Rodulf] the 
inner parts of the kingdom ; 
Oda the western part ; Beom- 
ear and Witha [Guido], 
Ijombardy, and those coun- 
tries which are in that part 
of the mountains; but they 
did not keep these large do- 
minions in peace, for they 
twice fought a pitched battle, 
and often mutually ravaged 
their kingdoms, and drove 
each other out of their 

In the same year in which 
that [pagan] army left Paris 
and went to Chezy, ^thel- 
helm, earl of Wiltshire, car- 
ried to Rome the alms of 
king ^IfVed and of the 

tta^Atttti 887 

The kingdom was then di- 
vided into five, and so many 
kings in the same: but aU 
things are done by the per- 
mission of Ring Eamulf, and 
they promised to be dl under 
his subjection, because they 
were not like him, descended 
from the paternal stock; 

and he lived after this on the 
eastern side of the river 

But Hrodulf occupied the 
middle parts of the kingdom, 
Odda the western parts, and 
Beorngar with Vuitha held 
the kingdom of the Lombards 
from the division of the Jovian 
mountain [Mount St 
Bernard]. There they 
began a civil war ; people 
assailed people; the lands of 
both were continually disturb- 
ed, nor was there any hope 

of quiet. 
The same year, in which the 
barbarians had settled on the 
bridge of Paris, duke iEthel- 
helm received no small part 
of the money paid from the 
diocese of the English by the 
king for the people, and 
went to Kome. 

In the same year also Alfred, 

king of the Anglo-Saxons, 

so often before mention^, by divine inspiration, began, on 

one and the same day, to read and to interpret ; but that I 

may explain this more fully to those who are ignorant, I will 

relate the cause of this long delay in beginning. 
On a certain day we were both of us sitting in the king's 
chamber, talking on all kinds of subjects as usual, and it 
happened that I read to him a quotation out of a certain 
book. He heard it attentively with both his ears, and ad- 
dressed me with a thoughtful mind, showing me at the same 
moment a book which he carried in his bosom, wherein the 
dafly courses and psalms, and prayers which he had read in 
his youth, were written, and he commanded me to write the 
same quotation in that book. Hearing this, and perceiving 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


8S7 Jlttmt 

appointed, and the kingdom 
was split into five parts ; but 
the principal rank in the 
kingdom justly and deserv- 
edly devolvea on Amulf, 
save only that he committed 
an unworthy offence against 
his uncle. The other four 
kings promised fidelity and 
obedience to Amul( as was 
proper ; for none of these 
tour kings was hereditary on 
his father's side in his share 
of the kingdom, as was Ar- 
nulf ; therefore, though the 
five kings were appointed 
immediately on the death of 
Charles, yet the empire re- 
mained in the hands of 

Such then was the division 
of the kingdom ; Amulf re- 
ceived the countries on the 
east of the river Rhine ; 

Herothulf [Rodulp] the 
inner parts of the kinedom ; 
Oda the western part; beom- 
gar and Witha [Guido], 
Lombardy, and those coun- 
tries which are in that part 
of die mountains; but they 
did not keep these large do- 
minions in peace, for they 
twice fought a pitched battle, 
and often mutually ravaged 
their kingdoms, and drove 
each other out of their 
In the same year 

elm, earl of Wiltshire, car- 
ried to Rome the alms of 
king Alfred and of the 



About this time by the 
factiousness of Ernulf, five 
kings were made in France. 


In the same year also Alfred 

king of the Anglo-Saxons 

so often before mentioned, by divine inspiration, began, on 

one and the same day, to read and to interpret. 

8 At this time, also, Elfred 
king of the Saxons inspired 
by the gift of God, was able 
to read and interpret the 
sacred writings. 



3ar(ni CJinmkU 



his ingenuous benevolence, 
and devout desire of studjring 
the words of divine wisdom, I gave, though in secret, bound- 
less thanks to Almiehty God, who had implanted such a love 
of wisdom in the lung's heart. But I could not Hnd any 
empty space in that book wherein to write the quotation, for 
it was already full of various matters ; wherefore I made a 
little delay, principally that I might stir up the bright intel- 
lect of the kmg to a higher acquaintance with the divine tes- 
timonies. Upon his urging me to make haste and write it 
auickly, I said to him, *' Are you willing that I should write 
[lat quotation on some lea! apart? For it is not certain 
whether we shall not find one or more other such extracts 
which will please you ; and if that should so happen, we 
shall be glad that we have kept them apart" *' Your plan 
is good," said he, and I gladly made haste to get ready a 
sheet, in the beginning of which I wrote what he bade me ; 
and on that same day, I wrote therein, as I had anticipated, 
no less than three other quotations which pleased him ; and 
from that time we daily talked together, and found out other 
quotations which pleased him, so that the sheet became full, 
aud deservedly so ; according as it is written, '* The just 
man builds upon a moderate foundation, and by degrees 
masses to greater things." Thus, like a most productive bee, 
le flew here and there, asking questions as he went, until 
he had eagerly and unceasingly collected many various 
flowers of divine Scripture, with which he thickly stored the 

cells of his mind. 
Now when that Hrst quotation was copied, he was eager at 
once to read, and to interpret in Saxon, and then to teach 
others ; even as we read of that happy robber, who recog- 
nized his Lord, aye, the Lord of all men, as he was hanging 
on the blessed cross, and saluting him with his bodily eyes 
only, because elsewhere he was all pierced with nails, cried, 
" Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom ! " 
for it was only at the end of his life that he began to learn 
the rudiments of the Christian faith. But the king, inspired 
by God, began to study the rudiments of divine Scripture on 
the sacred solemnity of St Martin [Nov. 11 J, and tie con- 
tinued to learn the flowers collected by certain masters, and 
to reduce them into the form of one book, as he was then 
able, although mixed one with another, until it became almost 
as large as a psalter. This book he called his Enchiridion 
or Manual [Hand-book], because he carefully kept it at hand 
day and night, and found, as he told me, no small consolation 
But as has already been written by a certain wise man, 
Of watchful mlndi are they whose pious care 
It ii to govern well, 

80 must I be watchful, in that I just now drew a kind of com- 
parison or similarity, though in dissimilar manner, between 
that happy robber and the king; ; for the cross is hateful to 
every one, wherever there is suffering. But what can he do, if 
he cannot save himself or escape thence ? or by what art can he 
remain there and improve his cause? He must therefore, 
whether he will or no, endure with pain and sorrow that 

which he is s\iffering. 
Now the kine was pierced with many nails of tribulation, 
though placed in the royal seat ; for from the twentieth year 
of his age to the present year, which is his 45 th,^ he has 
been constantly afflicted with most severe attacks of an un- 
known complaint, so that he has not a moment's ease either 

ittiitlmi 887 

* This nuit coniequently baTt 
been written la ▲. o. WS. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 101 

887 JhttMt ||QttiBgb0i $mm 

Namely on the holy feaflt 

day of St Martin hishop of 


Now the king was pierced with many nails of tribulation ; 9 He was 

though placed in the royal seat ; for from the twentieth year afflicted with many trihula* 

of his affe, as we have said, to his 45th and more, he was tions of this world, notwith- 

constanUy afflicted with most severe attacks of an un- standing that he was placed 
known complaint, so that he had not a moment's ease either in kingly power, 

from tnffermg the pain which it causes, or from the gloom 



Sorott Cl|t(miclt 

from suffering the pain which 
it causes, or from the gloom 
which is thrown over him by the apprehension of its comine. 
Moreover, the constant invasions of foreign nations, by whicn 
he was continually harassed by land and sea, without any 
interval of rest, were a just cause of disquiet. What 
shall I say of his repeated expeditions against the pagans, 
his wars, and incessant occupations of government ? Of the 
daily embassies sent to him by foreign nations, from the 
Tyrrhenian sea to the farthest end of Ireland ?t For we 
have seen and read letters, accompanied with presents, which 
were sent to him by Abel the patriarch of Jerusalem. What 
shall I say of the cities and towns which he restored, and 
of others which he built, where none had been before ? of 
the royal halls and chambers, wonderfully erected by his 
command, with stone and wood ? of the royal vills constructed 
of stone, removed from their old site, and handsomely rebuilt 
by the king's command in more fitting places ? Besides the 
disease above mentioned, he was disturbed by the quarrels of 
his friends, who would voluntarily endure little or no toil, 
though it was for the common necessity of the kingdom ; 
but ne alone, sustained by the divine aid, like a skilful 
pilot, strove to steer his ship, laden with much wealth, into 
the safe and much desired harbour of his country, though 
almost all his crew were tired, and suffered them not to faint 
or hesitate, though sailing amid the manifold waves and 

eddies of this present life. 
For all his bishops, earls, nobles, favourite ministers, and 
prefects, who, next to God and the king, had the whole go- 
vernment of the kingdom, as is fitting, continually received 
from him instruction, respect, exhortation, and command ; 
nay, at last, when they were disobedient, and his long patience 
was exhausted, he would reprove them severely, and censure 
their vulgar folly and obstinacy ; and thus he directed their 
attention to his own will and to the common interests of the 
kingdom. But, owing to the sluggishness of the people, 
these admonitions of the king were either not fulfilled, or 
were begun late at the moment of necessity, and so ended 
less to the advantage of those who put them in execution ; 
for I will say nothing of the castles which he ordered to be 
built,but which, being begun late, were never finished, because 
the hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea, and 
as often happened, the thwarters of the royal ordinance re- 
pented when It was too late, and blushed at their non-perform- 
ance of his commands. I speak of repentance when it is too 
late, on the testimony of Scripture, whereby* numberless 
persons have had cause for too much sorrow when many in- 
sidious evils have been wrought But though by these 
means, sad to say, they may be bitterly afflicted and roused 
to sorrow by the loss of fathers, wives, children, ministers, 
servant-men, servant-maids, and furniture and household 
stuff, what is the use of hateful repentance when their kins- 
men are dead, and they cannot aid them, or redeem those 
who are captive from captivity ? for they are not able even to 
assist those who have escaped, as they have not wherewith 
to sustain even their own lives. They repented, therefore, 
when it was too late, and grieved at their incautious neglect 
of the king's commands, and they praised the royal wisdom 
with one voice, and tried with all tneir power to fulfil what 
they had before refused, namely, concerning the erection of 
castles, and other things generally useful to the whole 

eti»a»trt 887 

t Wise conjectures that we oiight 
to read Hiberiee, Spain, and not 
HiberaUe.lRELAMO, in thiipataage 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


887 /tome 



which was thrown over him 
by the fear of its coming. 

Moreover, the constant invasions of foreign nations, hy which 
he was continually harassed hy land and sea, without any 
interval of rest, were a just cause of disquiet. What 
ihaU I say of his repeated expeditions against the pagans, 
his wars, and incessant occupations of government? 

10 For we have also seen and 
read letters and various gifts 
sent to him from Jerusalem 

by Abel the patriarch. 

11 How he enlarged the 
dominions of his kmgdom, 
and rebuilt the walls of the 
cities, and strengthened their 
defences which had been 
thrown down, and made 
others which before were not, 
what man, even if sustained 
by civic eloquence, can 
describe with the lips of exul- 
tation ? 

Who, moreover, shall tell 
how he enriched the Holy 
Places with ornaments and 
with kingly gifts? He was 
often disturbed in mind 
against the princes, and 
leaders of galleys, and all 
the race of the wicked, 
because they would not follow 
him in the studies on which 
he was bent. But yet, he 
alone, supported by the 
divine aid, like a skilful pilot, 
sought to steer his ship, that 
is the life of his own glorious 
mind, into the haven of a 
peaceful paradise. He was 
in the habit of keeping in 
frequent memory those 
verses : 

He who would hope with cautious 
A lasting seat to find [step* 

And with firm feet to keep his stand 
Against the blowing wind ; &c. 

And lower down : 

Though down this world in ruin falls, 

And winds may swell the seas, 
Thou, shut within thy peaceful walls , 

Shalt spend thy days in ease, 
And imUe at all the impotence 

And fury of the breeze. 

These things the pious king 
turning over and over in bis mind, gave forth a frocrance by his unspeakable deeds which 
were the fruits of his goodness. Who shall tell ^^at gifts he gave on festal days to his 
biihops, chiefs and soldiers ? The poor then rejoiced in jubUee : then oiyhans and widows 
applauded with unbounded joy of heart. He [Alfred] knew those words of the scholasUc 
wnter ; " Monsy is precious when it has been transferred to others : with the use of giving 
it ceases to be possessed." He constantly admonished his bishops shining with heavenly 
brightness, to correct the faults of the people and restrain by bold chastisement the folly of 
the \'ulgar : and he not only admonished the shepherds of the people, but also commanded 
his dukes and chosen servants, to make themselves wisely serviceable to the common good 

of all the kingdom. 

of the cities and towns which he restored, and 
of others which he built, where none had been before ? of 
the buildings of gold and silver, incomparably wrought at his 

command? of 

the royal halls and chambers, wonderfully erected by his 

command, with stone and wood ? of the royal vills constructed 

of stone, removed from their old site, and handsomely rebuilt 

by the king's command in more fitting places ? 

He, sustained by the divine aid, 

did not suffer his government, once undertaken, to faint 

or hesitate, though sailing amid the manifold waves and 

eddies of this present life. 

For all his bishops, earls, nobles, favourite ministers, and 


continually received 

from him instruction, exhortation, and command ; 

nay, at last, when they were disobedient, and his long patience 

was exhausted, he would reprove them severely, and censure 

their vulgar folly and obstinacy; and thus he directed their 

Attention to his own will, and the common interests of the 

kingdom. But if, owing to the sluggishness of the people, 

these admonitions of the king were cither not fulfilled, or 

were begun lato at the moment of necessity, and so ended 

less to the advantage of those who put them in execution ; 

for instance the castles which he ordered to be 
built,but which, being begun late,werc never finished, because 
the hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea, 
as often happened, the thwarters of the royal ordinance re- 
pented when it was too late, 

and grieved at their incautious neglect 
of the king's commands, and they praised the royal wisdom 
with one voice, and tried with all their power to fulfil what 
they had before refused. 



$an (pftBiifU 


«%l«nl i 

Of his fixed purpose of 
holy meditation, which in the 
midst of prosperity and adversity he never neglected, I cannot 
with advantage now omit to speak. For, whereas he often 
thought of the necessities of his soul, among the other good 
deeds to wUch his thoughts were night and day turned, he 
ordered that two monasteries should be built, one for monks 
at Aihelney, which is a place surrounded by impassable 
marshes and rivers where no one can enter but by boats, or 
by a bridge laboriously constructed between two other 
heights ; at the western end of which bridge was erected a 
strcmg tower, of beautiful work, by command of the aforesaid 
king ; and in this monastery he collected monks of all kinds, 

from every quarter, and placed them therein. 
For at first) because he had no one of his own nation, 
noble and free by birth, who was willing to enter the mo- 
nastic life, except children, who could neither choose good 
nor avoid evil in consequence of their tender years, because 
for many previous years the love of a monastic uf e had utterly 
decayed from that nation as well as from many other nations 
Chough many monasteries slill remain in that country ; yet, as 
no one directed the rule of that kind of life in a regular way, 
for what reason I cannot say, either from the invasions of 
foreigners which took place so frequently both by sea and 
land, or because that people abounded in riches of evenr 
kind, and so looked witn contempt on the monastic life. It 
was for this reason that king Alfred sought to gather monks 

of different kinds to place in the same monastery. 
First he placed there as abbat, John * the priest and monk, 
an old Saxon by birth, then certain priests and deacons from 
beyond the sea; of whom, findin? tnat he had not as large a 
number as he wished, he procured as many as possible of the 
same Gallic race, some oi whom, being cmldren, he ordered 
to be taught in the same monastery, and at a later period to 
be admitted to the monastic habit I have myself seen a 
young lad of pagan birth who was educated in that monastery, 

and by no means the hindmost of them all. 
There was also a deed done once in that monastery, which 
I would utterly consign to oblivion, although it is an un- 
worthy deed ; for throughout the whole of Scripture the base 
deeds of the wicked are interspersed among the blessed deeds 
of the iust, as tares and darnel are sown among the wheat : 
good deeds are recorded that they may be praised and imi- 
tated, and that their imitators may be held in all honour ; 
wicked deeds are there related, that they may be censuied 
and avoided, and their imitators be reproved with all odium, 

contempt, and vengeance. 
For once upon a time, a certain priest and a deacon, Gauls 
by birth, and two of the aforesaid monks, by the insti- 

fation of the devil, and excited by some secret iealousy, 
ecame so embittered in secret against their abbat, the above 
mentioned John, that, like Jews, thev circumvented and be- 
trayed their master. For whereas he had two servants, whom 
he bad hired out of Gaul, they taught these such wicked 
practices, that in the night, when all men were enjoying the 
sweet tranquillity of sleep, they should make their way into 
the church armed, and shutting it behind them as usual, hide 
themselves therein, and wait for the moment when the abbat 
•hould enter the church alone. At length, when he should 
come alone to pray, and bending his knees, bow before the 
holy altar, the men should rush on him with hostility, and 
try to slay him on the spot They then should drag his 

• Not the celebrated John 84 

887 fitWUi 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 



Among the other good 

deedi which he did, he 

ordered that two monasteries should he built, one for monks 

It Athelney, 

where he collected monks of all kinds. 

The same king had made a 
beautiful monastery in the 
place called Ethelingaige, 
close to which on the western 
side was placed a fortress 
that had been made yery 
strong by the conunand and 
the labour of the aforesud 
king. In this convent he 
collected from all sides 
monks of different kinds, and 
settled in that place. 

First he placed there as abbat, John the priest and monk, 
an old Saxon by birth. 




Sorn <t^tinricU Jlurc ttt^dvrtl 8d7 

lifeless bod^out of the churcbi 

and throw it down before the 
house of a certain harlot, as if he had been slain whilst on a 
visit to her.i^ This was their machination, adding crime to 
crime, as it is said, "The last error shall be worse than the 

But the divine mercy, which always delights to aid the 
innocent, frustrated in c^at part the wicked design of the 
wicked men, so that it should not turn out in every respect 

as they had proposed. 
When, therefore, the whole of the evil counsel had been 
explained bv those wicked teachers to their wicked agents, 
and the night which had been fixed on as most fit was comei 
the two armed ruffians were placed, with a promise of im- 
punity, to await in the church for the arrival of the abbat. 
in the middle of the night John, as usual, entered the 
church to pray, without any one's knowing of it, and knelt 
before the altar. The two ruffians rushed upon him with 
drawn swords, and dealt him some severe wounds. But he, 
being a man of a brave mind, and, as we have heard say, not 
unacquainted with the art of self-defence, if he had not been 
a follower of a better calling, no sooner heard the sound of « 

the robbers, before he saw them, than he rose up against 
them before he was wounded, and, shouting as loud as he 
could, struggled against them, crying out that they were 
devils and not men : for he himself knew no better, as he 
thought that no men would dare to attempt such a deed. 
He was, however, wounded before any of his people could 
come to his help. His attendants, roused by the noise, were 
frightened when they heard the word devils, and both these 
two who, like Jews, sought to betray their master, and the 
others who knew nothing of the matter, rushed together to 
the doors of the church ; but before thev got there those 
ruffians escaped, leaving the abbat half dead. The monks 
raised the old man, in a fainting condition, and carried him 
home with tears and lamentations ; nor did those two deceit- 
ful monks shed tears less than the innocent. But God's 
mercy did not allow so bold a deed to pass unpunished ; the 
ruffians who perpetrated it, and all who urged them to it, 
were taken and put in prison, where, by various tortiures, 
they came to a disgraceful end. Let us now return to our 

Another monastery, also, was built by the same king as a 
residence for nuns, near the eastern gate of Shaftesbury ; and 
his own daughter, Ethelgiva, was placed in it as abbess. 
With her many other noble ladies bound by the rules of the 
monastic life, dwell in that monastery. Tliese two edifices 
were enriched by the king with much land, as well as perso- 
nal property. 
These things being thus disposed of, the king began, as 
was his practice, to consider within himself, what more he 
could do to augment and show forth his piety ; what he had 
begun wisely, and thoughtfully conceived for the public 
benefit, was adhered to with equally beneficial result ; for 
he had heard it out of the book of the law, that ths 
Lord had promised to restore to him tenfold ; and he 
knew that the Lord had kept his promise, and had actually 
restored to him tenfold. Encouraged by this example, and 
wishing to exceed the practices of his predecessors, he vowed 
humbly and faithfully to devote to God half his services, 
both day and night, and also half of all his wealth, such as 
lawfully and jusUy came annually into his possession ; and 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 

887 fimui 




Another roonasteryi also, was built by the same king as a 

randence for nuns, near the eastern gate of Shaftesbury , and 

his own daughter, iBthelgeofu, a nun, was placed in it as 


These two edifices 

were enriched by the king with much land, as well as perso- 
nal property. 

Moreover he vowed 

humUy and faithfully to devote to God half 

of all hit wealth, such as 

lawfully and joatly caaM annually into his possession ; and 

He also built another mon- 
astery near the eastern gate 
of the city called Sceftes- 
burg, intended for the resi- 
dence of nuns, wherein he 
dedicated to God as abbess 
his own daughter the virgin 
Ethelgyfa. He gave such 
laree eifts and possessions to 
bom these monasteries that 
they had enough for food 
and clothing as long as life 

should last. 
When these things which we 
have related were fully and 
firmly done, king Elfred, as 
was his wont, began with 
searching mind to look with- 
in the recesses of his breast, 
and to meditate upon that 
which is written in the divine 
letters ; ** If you offer rightly, 


$an ClftonkU JUftt (tfl^Awni 887 

this vow, as far as human dis- 
cretion can perceive and keep, 
he skilfully and wisely endeavoured to fulfil. But, that ne 
might, with his usual caution, avoid that which scripture 
warns us against : " If you offer aright, but do not cuvide 
aright, you sin," he considered how he might divide aright 
that which he had vowed to God ; and as Solomon had said, 
<*The heart of the king is in the hand of God," that is, his 
counsel, he ordered with wise policy, which could come only 
from above, that his officers should first divide into two parts 

the revenues of every year. 
When this division was made, he assigned the first part to 
worldly uses, and ordered that one-third of it should be paid 
to his soldiers, and also to his ministers, the nobles who 
dwelt at court where they discharged divers duties ; for so 
the king's family was arranged at all times into three classes. 
The king's attendants were most wisely distributed into three 
companies, so that the first company should be on duty at 
court for one month, night and day, at the end of which they 
returned to their homes, and were relieved by the second 
company. At the end of the second month, in the same 
way, the third company relieved the second, who returned to 
their homes, where they spent two months, until their ser- 
vices were again wanted. The third company also gave place 
to the first in the same way, and also spent two months at 
home. Thus was the threefold division of the companies ar- 
ranged at all times in the royal household. 
To these therefore was paid the first of the three portions 
aforesaid, to each accordmg to their respective dignities and 
peculiar services ; the second to the operatives, whom he had 
collected from every nation, and had about him in large num- 
bers, men skilled in every kind of construction ; the third 
portion was assigned to foreigners who came to him out of 
every nation far and near, whether they asked money of him 
or not, he cheerfully gave to each with wonderful munificence 
according to their respective merits, according to what is 

written : " God loveth a cheerful giver." 
But the second part of all his revenues, which came yearly 
into his possession, and was included in the receipts of the 
exchequer, as we mentioned a little before, he, with ready de- 
votion, gave to God, ordering his ministers to divide it eare- 
fully into four parts, on the condition that the first part should 
he oiscreetly bestowed on the poor of every nation who came 
to him ; and on this subject he said that, as far as human 
discretion could guarantee, the remark of pope St Gregory 
should be followed ; ** Give not much to whom you should 
give little, nor little to whom much, nor something to whom 
nothing, nor nothing to whom something." The second of 
the four portions was given to the two monasteries which he 
had built, and to those who therein had dedicated themselves 
to God's service, as we have mentioned above. The third 
portion was assigned to the school, which he had studiously 
collected together, consisting of many of the nobility of his 
own nation. The fourth portion was for the use of all 
the neighbouring monasteries in all Saxony and Mercia, and 
also during some years, in turn, to the churches and servants 
of God dwelling in Britain [Wales], Cornwall, Gaul, Ar- 
morica, Northumbria, and sometimes also in Ireland ; accord- 
ing to his means, he either distributed to them beforehand, or 

afterwards, if life and success should not fail him. 
When the king had arranged these matters, he remem- 
bered that lentence of divme scripture, " Whosoever will 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


887 /litmt 

this vow, with wonderful 

alacrity of mind, 

he wisely studied to fulfil 


and divide not rightly, you 
have sinned.'* He reflected 
too, from his heart, on what 
is said by Solomon that 
wisest of kings, "The heart 
of the king is in the hand of 
Almighty God." 

He ordered with wise policy which could come only 

from above, that his officers should first divide into 2 parts 

the revenues of every year. 

When this division was made, he 

ordered that one-third of the first part should be divided 

into three parts, of which he gave yearly the first part 

to his ministers, the nobles who 
dwelt at court where they discharged divers duties ; for 
the king's attendants were most wisely distributed into three 
companies so that the first company should be on duty at 
court for one month, night and day, at the end of which they 
were relieved by the second companv and return to their 
homes, where they stayed 2 months attending to their 
own business. At the end of the second month, in the same 
way, the third company relieved the second, who returned to 
their homes, where they also spent two months. 
The third company also gave place 
to the first in the same way, and also spent two months at 
home. Thus was the threefold division of the companies ar- 
ranged at all times in the royal household. 

He also divided his income 
into 3 parts. The first por- 
tion of his income he gave 
yearly to his warriors : 

The second part was paid to the operatives, whom he had 
collected from many nations and had about him in large num- 
bers, men skilled in every kind of construction ; the third 
portion was assigned to foreigners who came to him out of 
every nation far and near ; whether they asked money of him 
or not,he cheerfully gave to each with wonderful munificence. 

But the second part of all his revenues, wliich came yearly 
into his possession, 

ordered his ministers to divide care- 

fuUy into four parts, on the condition that the first part should 

be discreetly bestowed on the poor of every nation who came 

to him. 

the second, to the workmen 
whom he had gathered out 
of many nations: the third 
to foreigners who came to 
him from every quarter. 
For he knew that "God 

loveth a cheerful giver." 
For he was placed among 
manifold thorns of tribula- 
tion, although he was en- 
throned in the royal power. 

The second of 
the four portions was given to the two monasteries which he 
had built, and to those who therein had dedicated themselves 

to God's service, llie third 
portion was assigned to the school, which he had studiously 
collected together, consisting of many, both noble and 

ignoble, of his 
own nation. The fourth portion was for the use of all 
the neighbouring monasteries in all Saxony and Mercia, and 
also during some years, in turn, to the churches and servants 
of God dwelling in Britain [Wales,! Cornwall, Gaul, Ar- 
morica, Northumbria and sometimes also in Ireland ; accord- 
ing to his means, he distributed to them. 
When the king had arranged these matters, 



3(nr0ii (U|r0tttcU 


(ttiftlmtA 887 

give alms,ought to begin from 
himself," and prudently b©- 

Sm to reflect what he could offer to God from the service of 
8 body and mind ; for he proposed to consecrate to God no 
less out of this than he had done of things external to him- 
self. Moreover, he promised, as far as his inHrmity and his 
means would allow, to eive up to God the half of his ser- 
vices, bodily and mental, by night and by day, voluntarily, 
and with all his might; but, inasmuch as he could not 
equally distinguish the lengths of the hours by night, on ac- 
count of the darkness, and ofttimes of the day, on account of 
the storms and clouds, he began to consider, by what means 
and without any difficulty, relying on the mercy of God, he 
might discharge the promised tenor of his vow until his 

After long reflection on these things, he at length, by a 
useful and shrewd invention, commanded his chaplains to 
supply wax in a sufficient Quality, and he caused it to be 
weighed in such a manner tnat when there was so much of 
it in the scales, as would equal the weight of seventy-two 
pence, he caused the chaplains to make six candles thereof, 
each of equal length, so tnat each candle might have twelve 
divisions t marked longitudinally upon it By this plan, 
therefore, those six candles burned for twenty-four hours, a 
night and day, without fail, before the sacred relics of many 
of God's elect, which always accompanied him wherever he 
went ; but sometimes when they would not continue burning 
a whole day and night, till the same hour that they were 
lighted the preceding evening, from the violence of the wind, 
which blew day and ni^ht without intermission through the 
doors and windows of Uie churches, the fissures of the divi- 
sions, the plankings of the wall, or the thin canvass of the 
tents, they then unavoidably burned out and finished their 
course before the appointed time ; the king therefore consi- 
dered by what means he might shut out the wind, and so by 
a useful and cunning invention, he ordered a lantern to be 
beautifully constructed of wood and white ox-horn, which, 
when skilfully planed till it is thin, is no less transparent 
than a vessel of glass. This lantern, therefore, was wonder- 
fully made of wood and horn, as we before said, and by 
nignt a candle was put into it, which shone as brightly with- 
out as within, and was not extinguished by the wind ; for the 
opening of the lantern was also closed up, according to the 

king's command, by a door of horn. 
By this contrivance, then, six candles, lighted in succession, 
lasted four and twenty hours, neither more nor less, and, 

when these were extinguished, others were lighted. 
When all these things were properly arranged, the king, 
eager to give up to God the half of his daily service, as he 
had vowed, and more also, if his ability on the one hand, 
and his malady on the other, would allow him, showed 
himself a minute investigator of the truth in all his judg- 
ments, and this especially for the sake of the poor, to whose 
interest, day and night, among other duties of thb life, he 
ever was wonderfully attentive. For in the whole kingdom 
the poor, besides him, had few or no protectors ; for ail the 
powerful and noble of that country had turned their thoughts 
rather to secular than to heavenly things : each was more 
bent on secular matters, to his own profit, than on the public 

He strove also, in his own judgments, for the benefit of 
both the noble and the ignoble, who often perversely quar- 


FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. Ill 

887 Jlitna Ittttttogiioit StouoB 

ke promised, as far as liis infirmity and his 

means would allow, to give up to God the half of his ser- 

fices, bodily and mentu, by night and by day, voluntarily, 

snd with all his might. 

Wherefore he began to consider, by what means 

and wiSiout any variation, he 

might discharge the promised tenor of his vow until his 


He at length, by a 

useful and shrewd invention, commanded 

wax to be given him in a sufficient quab'ty, and 

weighed against penny pieces : and when there was so much of 

it in the scales, as would e^ual the weight of seventy-two 

pence, he caused the chaplams to make six candles thereof, 

each of equal len^, so tnat each candle might have twelve 

divisions markea longitudinally upon it. By this plan, 

therefore, those six candles burned for twenty-^ur hours, a 

night and day, without fail, before the sacred relics of many 

of God's elect, which always accompanied him wherever he 


Moreover the king 

was a minute investigator of the truth in all his judg- 
ments^ as inidl other things. 



Sam CffrmrirU JUttr CtljdMrt 887 

relied at the meetings of bis 

earls and officers, so that 
hardly one of them admitted the justice of what had been 
decided by the earls and prefects, and in consequence of 
this pertinacious and obstinate dissension, all desired to 
have the judgment of the lung, and both sides sought at 
once^ to gratify their desire. But if any one was conscious 
of injustice on his side in the suit, tliough by law and 
agreement he was compelled, however reluctant, to ^o before 
the king, yet with his own good will he never would consent 
to go. For he knew, that in the king's presence no part 
of his wrong would be hidden ; and no wonder, for the king 
was a most acute investigator in passing sentence, as he was 
in all other things. He inquired into almost all the judgments 
which were given in his own absence, throughout all his 
dominion, whether they were just or uiyust. If he perceived 
there was iniquity in those judgments, he summoned the 
judges, either through his own agency, or through oUiers of 
his faithful servants, and asked mem mildly, why they had 
judged so unjustly ; whether through ignorance or malevo- 
lence ; i. e., whether for the love or fear of any one, or hatred 
of others ; or also for the desire of money. At length, if the 
judges acknowledged they had given judgment because the^ 
knew no better, he discreetly and moderately reproved their 
inexperience and folly in such terms as these : <' I wonder 
truly at your rashness that, whereas by God's favour and 
mine, you have occupied the rank and office of the wise, 
you have neglected the studies and labours of the wise, 
lather, therefore, at once give up the discharge of the tem- 
poral duties which you hold, or endeavour more zealously 
to study the lessons of wisdom. Such are my commands. ' 
At these words the earls and prefects would tremble 
and endeavour to turn all their thoughts to the study of 
justice, so that, wonderful to say, almost all his earls, pre- 
fects, and officers, though unlearned from their cradles, were 
sedulously bent upon acquiring learning, choosing rather la- 
boriously to acquire the knowledge of a new discipline than 
to resign their functions ; but if any one of them from old 
aee or slowness of talent was unable to make progress in 
liberal studies, he commanded his son, if he had one, or 
one of his kinsmen, or, if there was no other person to be 
had, his own freedman or servant, whom he had some time 
before advanced to the office of reading, to recite Saxon 
books before him night and day, whenever he had any lei- 
sure, and they lamented with deep sighs, in their inmost 
hearts, that in their youth they had never attended to such 
studies ; and they blessed the young men of our days, who 
happily could be instructed in the Uberal arts, whilst they 
execrated their own lot, that they had not learned these 
things in their youth, and now, when they are old, though 
wishing to learn them, they are unable. But this skill of 
yoimg and old in acquiring letters we have explained to the 
Knowledge of the aforesaid king.* 

• Aiier'i work here Icaret off abruptly, which it the more remarkable, 
because, In a former pasMge of hit work, he has shewn by hit mode of 
■peech. that he waa alive in the 46th year of King Alfred's life, that is in 
893 [seep. 100]. 

Here theiefore we lose sight of Asser, and introduce the Annals in his 
place to make the « columns perfect. It may be remarked that Florence 
who has copied Asser almost word for word, has only a general likeness of 
phraseology to the Annals, like the other chroniclers. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 113 

887 /litmt ItttttiogioQ 3tfluot 

He inquired into almost all the judgments 
which were given in his own ahsence, throughout all his 
dominion, whether they were just or unjust. If he perceived 
there was iniquity in those judgments, he summoned the 
judges, either through his own agency, or through others of 
his faithful servants, and asked them mildly, why they had 
judged so unjustly ; whether through ignorance or malevo- 
lence ; i. e. whether for the love or fear of any one, or hatred 
of others ; or also for the desire of money. At length, if the 
judges acknowledged they had given judgment because they 
knew no better, he discreetly and moderately reproved theur 
inexperience and folly in such terms as these : " 1 wonder 
truly at your rashness, that whereas by God's favour and 
mine, you have occupied the rank and office of the wise, 
you have neglected the studies and labours of the wise. 
Either, therefore, at once nve up the discharge of the tem- 
poral duties which you hold, or endeavour more zealously 
to study the lessons of wisdom. Such are my commands. 
At these words the earls and prefects would tremble 
and endeavour to turn all their tnoughts to the study of 
justice, BO that, wonderful to say, almost all his earls, pre- 
fects, and officers, though unlearned from their cradles, were 
sedulously bent upon acouiring learning, choosing lather la- 
boriously to acamre the knowledge of a new discipline than 
to resign their functions ; but if any one of them, from old 
age or slowness of talent was imable to make progress in 
liberal studies, he commanded his son, if he had one, or 
one of his kinsmen, or, if there was no other person to be 
had, his own freedman or servant, whom he had some time 
before advanced to the office of reading, to recite Saxon 
books before him night and day, whenever he had any lei- 
sure : but the old men lamented with deep sighs, 
in their inmost 

hearts, that in their youth they had never attended to such 
studies ; and they blessed the young men of our days, who 
happily could be instructed in the Oberal arts, whilst they 
execrated their own lot, that they had not learned these 
thin^ in their youth, and now, when they are old, though 
wiflhmg to learn them, they are unable. 

CHARTERS IV 887. None. 





A. 888. 

Here aldennan Beocca car- 
ried the alms of the West- 
Saxons and of king Alfred 

to Rome. 
And <jueen ^thelswith, who* 
was kmg -Alfred's sister, died 
on the way to Rome, and 

her hody lies at Pavia. 

And that year -Slthelred 

archbishop of Canterbury, 

and alderman iBthelwold died 

in the same month. 

• In the following year they 
entered the mouth of the river 
lonna [Yonne], not without 
doing much damage to the 
country, and there remained 
one year. 

* This it displaced, in Asier, 
Florence and Simeon, for the sake 
of the connection. 

Ct||tl»nb 888 

CHARTERS IK 888. None. 


In the same year died queen 

In the lapse 'of the same 

year also, archbishop ^thel- 

red died, and Athelbald 

commander in Kent. 


Here there was no journey to Rome, except that king 
Alfred sent two couriers with letters. 

A. 890. 

Here abbat Beomhelm car- 
ried the alms of the West- 
Saxons and of king Alfred 
to Rome. 

And Godrum the Northern 
king died, whose baptismal 
name was ^thelstan ; he was 
kine Alfred's godson, and he 
abode in East-Anglia, and 
first settled that country. 

And that same year the army 
went from the Seine to Sant- 
laudan [St Lo], which is be- 
tween Brittany and France ; 
and the Bretons fought 
against them, and had the 
victory, and drove them out 
into a river, and drowned 

many of them. 
This year Plegemuud was 
chosen of God and of all the 
people to the archbishopric 

of Canterbury. 

A. 890. 

Died Guthram king of the 
(mgans, who also at his bap- 
tism took the name of Athel- 
stan. He was the first who 
reigned among the East- 
Angles after &e passion of 
the sainted king Eadmund, 
and he divided that country, 
and tilled, and first inhabited 
it. He died, therefore, in 
the 14th year after he receiv- 
ed baptism, and was biuried 
in the royal vill called Head- 
leaga [Hbadlev] among the 
East Angles* 

After one year abbat Bym- 
helm earned to Rome the 
alms for the people, and 
principally those of the west- 
em Engbsh and of king 

Then also Guthrum, kin^ of 
the northern English, yiemed 

his breath to Orcus, 
He had taken the name of 
Ethelstan, as he came out of 
the baptismal laver, from his 
ffodfather, king Alfred, and 
had his seat among the East- 
Angles, since he there also 

had held the first station. 
In the same year, the afore- 
said army of barbarians re- 
moved from the river Seine 
to a place called Sandlaudaa 
[Saint Lo]. situated between 
the Bretons and the Franks ; 
but the Bretons met them in 
arms, and obtained the vic- 
tory, and followed them to 
the windings of a certain 
river, and there not a few of 
them were drowned in the 


A. 891. 

Here the army went east- 
ward ; and king Eamulf, 
with the East-Franks and 
Saxons and Bavarians, fought 
against that part which was 
mounted before the ships 
came up, and routed them. 
And three Scots came to king 
Alfred in a boat without any 
oars from Ireland, whence 
they had stolen way, be- 

A. 891. 

3 The great army of pagans One year afterwards, the 
came from the eastern king- bands of the aforesaid army 
dom of the Franks as far as visited the eastern parts of 
Boulogne. France; king Amulf met 

them ; a fight of cavalry took 
place before the fleets arrived, and an army of eastern Franks 
came up. Saxons and Bavarians; the pagans spread 

their sans to flee. 

In the same year, three 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 







• In the following year they 
entered the mouth of the river 
lonna [Yonne], not without 
doing much damage to the 
country, and there remained 
one year. 

2 The nohle chief, named 

Beocca, carried the alms of king Alfred and 
Saxons to Rome. 

3 In the same year the king's 

sister jEthelsuuith, queen of Burhred king of 
cians, died and was huried at Ticinum. 

4 In which year, also, duke 
^thelwold and ^thelred 
archhishop of Dover died in 

the same month. 

7 But in the followinsr year 
12 In the year of our Lord's 

incarnation 888, 
7 They entered the mouth of 
a river called the lonna, not without much damage to the 
country, and there dwelt one year. 

the West- 

the Mer- 

13 Prince 

Beocca carried to Rome the 

alms of king Elired. 

On 'that journey died Ethel- 

suith the kind's sister, and she 

was huned in Pavia. 

(1) 889. 

CHARTERS iv 889. I. Wza- 
raiTK, [btebop of Winchester] 
II, 117. 2. Alfabd king of WesMX, 

subscribed also by " iEthelred 
subregulos et patricius Merciorum," 
*< Athelflcd,' and others. II, 118. 
8. A third charter of *' Mlwkmv 

dux," sabscribed also by leveral 
others, II, 120, and bearing no date 
is referred to 871—889. 4. Alvaxd 
king: no date. II, 122. 

(6) 890. 

8 Abbat Bomhelm carried to 
Rome the alms of king Alfred 

and of the West-Saxons. 

9 The Northman king Guth- 
nim, whom, as we have said 
before, king Alfred received 
from the sacred font and 
gave bim the name of ^thel- 

Btan, died this year. 

10 This man lived with his 
followers in £ast-Anglia, and 
first inhabited and possessed 
that island after the martyr- 
dmn of St Edmund the king. 

1 1 The same year the pagan 
army so often spoken of 
leaving the Seine, went to a 
place called Santlaudan, 
sttoated between France and 
Armorica. Against whom 
foufi:bt the Britons, who, 
havmg slain some, put others 
to flignt, and drowned others 
in the river, remained masters 

of the field. 
5 To whom succeeced, in the 
archbishopric, Pleigmund 
who was excellently instruct- 
ed in literature. 

In the 19th year of king 

Alfred, king Godrun the 
Dane, who was son of king 
Alfred and reigned in East- 
Anglia, was removed from 
this world. 

CHARTERS IK 890. None. 

This year the army went from 
the Seine to Sanlaudan which 
is between Bretagne and 
France. But the Bretons 
fought with them, and driv- 
ing them into a certain river, 
slew many of them. 

Here Plegmund was elected 
archbishop by God and all the 

In the year 890, abbat 

Beomhelm carried to Rome 

the alms of king Elfred and 

of the West-Saxons. 

In the same year died Guth- 
rum kine of the Northum- 
brians. King Elfred, as is 
read above, raised him from 
his baptism, and called him 

In this year the aforesaid 
army went from the Seine to 
Sanlaudan, situated between 
Bretagne and France : but 
they were put to flight by 
the Bretons, and the greater 
number of them drowned in 
the nearest river. 

(7) 891. 
13 The army of pagans above 
mentioned, leaving West 
France, went into East 
France ; but, before their 
ships could come to them, the 
emperor Amulf, with the 
Eastern Franks, Old Saxons 
and Bavarians, fought against 
tLeIr land army and debated 

In the following year, the 
army went towards the east, 
and king Amulf with the 
French, and Saxons, and 
Bavarians, fought against the 
army, and drove them back. 

CHARTERS in 891. King 
AiJTBSD 'August 2. II, 129. 

In the year 891, 

Heathured undertook the 




cause tbey desired for the 
love of God to be in a state 
of pilerimage, they recked 
not wnere. The boat in 
which they came was made 
of two hides and a half, and 
they took with them provi- 
sions sufficient for seven 
days ; and then about the 
seventh day they came on 
shore in Cornwall, and soon 
after went to king iBlfred. 
Thus they were named : Dub- 
tlane, and Macbeth, and 

And Swifneb, the best 
teacher among the Scots, 


(Et||tltDtri 891 

chosen men of Hibernian 
race, burning with piety, leave their country : they 
privately form a boat by sewing ox-hides; tney put 
into it provisions for a week; they sail seven days and 
seven nights, and arrive on the shores of Cornwall: here 
they left their fleet, which had been guided, not by the 
strength of their arms, but by the power of Him who 
rules all things, and set out for the court of king Alfred, 
who with his senate rejoice in their coming. From 
thence they proceeded to Rome, and, as is customary 
with teachers of Christ, they essay to so thence to Jeru- 
salem . . . Their names were, Dufslane 
the first ; Macbeathath, the second ; Magilmumen, the 
third, flourishing in the arts, skilled in letters, and a dis- 
tinguished masters of the 

(2) A.892. 
1 Comets appeared after 
Easter, and about the time of 

A. 892. 

And that same year, after 
Easter, about Rogation week 
or before, the star appeared 
which in Latin is called 
cometa; some men say in 

English that it is a hairy star, because a long radiance 
streams from it, sometimes on the one side, and some- 
times on each side. 

Also in the same year, after 
Easter, a comet appeared, 
which some think to be an 
omen of foul times, which 
have already past ; but it is 
the most approved theory of 
philosophers, that they U>re- 
tell future things, as has been 
tried in many ways. 

A. 893. 

Here in this year the great 
army, about which we for- 
merly spoke, came again 
from the eastern kingdom 

(8) A. 893. 

3 And thence with 

350 ships to the mouth of the 

river Limen, and there, not 

far from the river, made a 

westward to Boulogne, and strong fortress at a place There they station their fleet 

there was shipped ; so that called Apuldran. in the Limnean port, at a 

5 The river Limin runs out of 

One year after the barbarians 
fought king Amulf, they go 
to Boulogne, and there bimd 
a fleet, and pass over into 

they came over in one pass- 
age, horses and all ; and they 
came to land at Limene- 

mouth with 250 ships. 
This port is in the eastern 
part of Kent, at the east end 
of the great wood which we 
call Andred ; the wood is in 
length from east to west 120 miles or longer and 30 miles broad : the river of which we 
before spoke flows out of the weald. On this river they towed up their ships as far as the weald 
four miles from the outward harbour, and there stormed a fortress : within the fortress 
a few churlish men were stationed, and it was in part only constructed. 

the great wood, called And- 
readesweald, which wood 
covers a space of ground in 
length from east to west 120 
miles or more, and in breadth 
30 miles. 

place called Apoldre [ Applb- 
DORB, in Kent,] and destroy 
an ancient castle, because 
there was but a small band 
of rustics within, and there 
they make their winter camp. 

Then soon after that Hasten 
with eighty ships landed at 
the mouth of the Thames, 
and wrouj^ht himself a for- 
tress at Afiddleton , and the 
other army did the like at 

6 That same year Hasteng 
came with 80 ships to the 
mouth of the river Thames 
and made for himself a strong 
tower at Middeltun [Milton] 
on the south side of the 

In the course of this year, a 
large fleet belongine to 
HsBsten arrives on the banks 
of the river Thames, and 
found a citadel on the coasts 
of Kent, at a place called 

Middleton [Milton] : 
They encamped there the 
whole winter. And the number of years, from the glorious 
nativity of our Saviour was 900, all but seven. 

A. 894. ~~~ 

In this year, that was about a twelve-month after these had wrought the fortress in 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


894 /Urme 

14 Three Scotchmen,Du8blan, 
Mahbethu, Malmumin, desir- 
ing to lead a pilgrim's life for 
the Lord, taking with them 
provinon for one week, fled 
priyately out of Ireland, and 
went on board a boat made of 
nothing hut two hides and a 
balf, and after seven days, 
axriTed in a wonderful man- 
ner, without sail or tackling, 
in Cornwall, and afterwards 

went up to king Alfred. 

15 In the same year died 
Swi&ieh the learned teacher 

of the Scots. 



(12) 892. 
In the same year, also, the 
star called a Comet, was seen 
about the time of Rogation. 

CHARTERS xv 892. 1. King 
Alfakd, lubtcribed alto by £ad- 
weard filiui regU and others. II, 
124. 2. King Alvabo ; lub- 
■cribiHl alto, among others, by 
" JSthelwald fiUus regU." II, 124. 

In the year 892 
Died Wlfhere bishop of York, 
in the 39th year of his 


Afterwards that great armv 
returned into England witn 
all their things in 250 ships 
to the fort of Limene ; which 
port is in the eastern part of 
Kent near the great wood of 
Andredeslaige, which con- 
tains 120 miles in length and 
30 in breadth. Landing from 
their ships, they built a 
castle at Awldre. 

destroyed a half-built castle 

The naval and equestrian 
army of the pagans, leaving 
East Thames went to Bononia 
and croasine thence with 
their horses in 250 ships to 
Kent, came to land at the 
mouth of the river Limen, 
which flows out of the great 
wood named Andred. They 
drew their vessels up into the 
wood four miles from the 
river's mouth, and there 

inhabited by a few countrymen, and built for themselves 
mother fort at a place called Apidtreo. 

In the year 

CHARTERS ik 893. None. 

And not long after the pagan In the meantime Hasteng 

king Haesten with 80 vessels came with 80 ships to the 

entered the mouth of the port of the Thames, and 

Thames, and built for himself made a camp at Middletune 
a fortress at a royal vill called [Milton]. 



The pagans^ who inhabited 

CHARTERS IV 894. None. 

2 In the year 894 
1 The East Saxons and Nor- 
thumbrians gave hostageit 



Sofot €l|r0iikU 


(Etiltlottb 894 

the eastern district, the North- 

humbrians and the East-Angles had given oaths to king 
Alfred, and the East- Angles six hostages; and neverthe- 
less, contrary to their plighted troth, as oft as the other 
armies went out with all their force, they also went out, 
either with them or on their own part. 
On this king MUred gathered together his forces, 
and proceeded until he encamped between the two armies, 
as near as he could for the wood fastnesses and the water 
fastnesses, so that he might be able to reach either of 
them in case they should seek any open country. 
From this time the enemy always went out along the 
weald in bands and troops, bv whichever border was at 
the time without forces : and tney also were sought out by 
other bands, almost every day, either by day or night, 
as well from the king's force as also from the burgs. 
The king had divided his forces into two, so [that one 
half was constantly at home, the other half in the field ; 
besides those whose duty it was to defend the burgs. 
The army did not come out of their stations with their 
whole force oftener than twice : once when they first 
came to land, before the forces were assembled ; a 
second time when they would go away from their stations. 

Then had they taken much 
booty, and would at that 
time go northward over the 
Thames into Essex towards 
their ships. Then the king's 
forces outrode and got before 
them, and fought against 
them at Famham, and put 
the army to flight, and retook 
the booty; and they fled 
over the Thames where there 
was no ford ; then up along 

the Colne into an island. 
Then the forces there beset 
them about so long as they 
there had any provisions : 
but at length they had stayed 
their term of service, and 
had consumed their provi- 
sions ; and the king was then 
on his way thitherwards with 
the division which warred 

under him. 
While he was on his way 
thither, and the other force 
was gone homewards, and 
the Danish-men remained 
there behind, because their 
king had been wounded in 
the oattle, so that they could 
not carry him away, then 
those who dwelt among the 
Northhumbrians and among 

After the Easter of that year, 
the army which had come 
from Gaul leave their camp, 
and trace the intricacies of a 
certain immense wood, which 
is called Andredessuda, and 
they extended as far as the 

Western Angles* 
Slowly as they eo, they 
ravage the ad^oinine pto- 
vinces, Hampshire ana Berk- 
These things were told to the 
heir Edward, son of king 
Alfred, who had been exer- 
cising himself in the southern 

parts of England. 
And twice in the year they 
counted the spoil which they 
had obtained by fraud, in the 
land which borders on the 
southern bank of the Thames. 
The filthy crew which were 
then in possession of the 
East Angles, suddenly re- 
moved to a place called 

Bamfleet ; 
and there the allied band 
divided ; some of them re- 
mained, and some of them 

went beyond the sea. 
After this they reach the 
Western Angles, who meet 
them with threatening arms 
and dense arrav at Famham. 
They exult, freed by the 
arrival of the prince, like 
sheep under the protection 
of the shepherd: the tyrant 
is wounded, and his troops 
are driven across the river 
Thames into the northern 

Meanwhile, the Danes are 
held besieged in Thomey 


Earl Ethered, setting out 
from the city of London, lent 

his aid to the prince. 
The barbarians asked peace 
and a treaty : hostages are 
given, they promise by oath 
to leave the Kingdom of the 
aforesaid king; their words 
and deeds agree together 

without delay. 

Lastly, they set out for the 

country of the East-Angles, formerly governed by the 

king Saint Edmund. And their ships fly roimd to them 

from the Limnean port to Meresige * a place in Rent 

7 Not long after he made 

another on the north side of 

the Thames, at a place called 


9 The beginning of the reign 
of king Charles the boy : his 

knight was Hagano. 

10 That same year the city of 
York was taken by the 
Normans; but bishop Seba 

by God's help escaped. 

1 1 This year also, A If red king 
of the West Saxons fought 
against the Northmen at 
P'earnhame. He cut them to 
pieces, and wounded their 
king, and put them to flight 
and took much spoil from 
them and they were compell- 
ed to pass beyond the river 
Thames into Essex ; but 
many of them perished in the 


FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


894 Jlnmt 

and swore to be true to kine 

Elfred against the aforesaid 

pagans who had already 

come back to England. 

Northumberland, made a 

solemn peace on oath with king Alfred : as also did 
thote who dwelt in EastrAngUa, giving six hostages. 
But they broke the treaty, and, as often as the armies in 
Kent left their castles to plunder, they also went out to 
plunder, either with them, or alone» wherever they could. 

When this was known, king 

Alfred, taking with him part of his army, and leaving the 
other part at home, as was his wont, and placing others 
for garrisons in the castles and cities, marchea hastQy 
into Kent, where he laid out a camp, in a place naturally 
very strong because it was surrounded on all sides by 
water, high rocks and overhanging woods ; so that, if the 
enemies went out into any of the plains to plunder or fight, 
he could join battle with them without delay. 
But they, now on foot, now on horse-back, plundering in 
bands, frequented those districts, which they saw were 
not occupied by the king's troops. But, contrary to 
their expectation, not only some from the royal forces, 
but also from the cities, attacked them almost every 
day and night, and so annoyed them, that they all left 
Kent and went forth together from their quarters to plunder, 
for they had gone out together to plunder whilst they first 
began to live in those places. 

1 But afterwards he took an 

oath to king Alfred, that he 

woidd hurt him in nothing. 

But the king gave many ^ts 

to him and Ills wife, and his 

children; one of whom the 

king himself had held in 

baptism, and the great duke 
Edred the other. 

But Hasteng, always imfaith- 

fill, built a camp at Beam- 
But thia time they took a fled, 
greater and more plentiful 
booty, and determined to 
cross the river Thames, and 
enter Essex, and so, with 
their booty, to meet the 
naval band, which they had 
sent beforehand. But, being 
overtaken by the king's army, 
they fought a battle with 
them at Feomham, and 
having lost their booty 
together with the horses 
which they had brought with 
them from foreign parts, they 
were all nut to flight, and 
crossing the Thames where 
there was no ford, they took 
refuge in an island situated 
within the stream of the 
river Colne, where they were 

Sr£ny.'a:^y. »dVSe for their going home eame round. andano*«^girelie«^ 
♦So J^ 'ft,« «rmv AA«»forP went home, and king Alfred hastened up with the other lialf of his 
l!;:.^. b^th^/lld^g tfi U^eir W w Jmuch wo«nded.anS that ^^ 



Sofot €l|r(micU 

the East-Anelians gathered 
Bome hundred ships and went 
ahout south ; and some forty 
■hips ahout to the north, and 
hesieged a fortress in Devon- 
shire oy the north sea ; and 
those who went ahout to the 

south hesieged Exeter. 
When the kine heard that, 
then turned he westward 
towards Exeter with all his 
force, except a very strong 
body of the people eastwarf 


But king Alfred heard that a 
laree part of the pagan army, 
which had been driven 
thence, had gone by sea and 
sailed to Exeter; wherefore 
he led with him his army of 
horse and foot-soldiers, 
and fighting sternly against 
them, defeated them there 
and put them to flight. 

ittiftlmni 894 

In the course of the same 
year. Hasten breaks away 
with his band from Bamfleet, 
and devastates all Mercia, 
until they arrive at the end 
of Britain. 

These went onwards until 
they went to London; and 
then with the townsmen, and 
the aid which came to them 
from the west, they went 

east to Beamfleet 
Hsesten was then come there 
with his band which before 
sate at Middleton ; and ihe 
great army was also come 
Uiereto, which before sate 
at Apuldre near Limen&- 

The fortress at Beamfleet had 
been ere this constructed by 
Haesten, and he was at that 
time ffone out to plunder; 
and u&e great army wai 

Then came they thereto, and 
put the army to flight, and 
stormed the fortress, and 
took all that was within it, as 
well the nroperty, as the wo- 
men, and the children also, 
and brought the whole to 
London ; and all the diips 
they either broke in pieces 
or burned, or brought to Lon- 
don or to Rochester; and 
they brought the ynte of 
Haesten ana his two sons to 
the king : and he afterwards 
gave them up to him again, 

Meanwhile, by command of 
king Alfred, Adhered earl of 
the Mercians, together with 
the citizens of London, and 
other prudent warriors with* 
out number, came to Beam- 
fleot, and besieged the for- 
tress of the pagansybroke into 
it, and gained there number- 
less spoils in gold, silver, 

horses and garments. 
Amone which, also, the 
wife of Hasteng with his two 
sons were led to London, and 
brought before king Alfred ; 
whom the king at once 
ordered to be given up, 
because her sons were, one 
of them son [ood-son] of 
king Alfred, the other ef 

earl Adhered. 

But, when Hasteng again 

came to Beanfleat, he rebuilt 

there the casUe which had 

been broken down. 

In the same year Danaasuda, 
in Beamfleote, was destroyed 
by the people, and they 
divide the treasure among 

After this, Sigeferth, the 
pirate, lands from his fleet 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


894 fi$tmt 



4 But a messenger came to 
king Alfred saying, "A 
hundred ships are come from 
Northumherland and East- 
Anglia, and are besieging 

him with them, remained 

Bot king Alfred had not yet 
completed his march to 
attack the enemy, when lo, 
Dews 18 brongfit that the 
pagans who inhabited North- 
omberland and East-Anglia had collected together 240 ships, that some of them in 
100 ships had sailed round the south coast of Endand, and the others in 40 ships 
round the north coast: that the one party had besieeed Exeter, the others a fortress 
m Devonshire with a large body of men. When the king heard these things, he was 
not daunted by the rashness of the enemy, but became furious at his men being 
besieged. Without delay, he recalled all his cavalry, and marched to Exeter, leaving, 
however, a small body of men to finish the subjugation of the enemy he was following. 
These, proceeding to London, with the citizens and others who had come to help them 
from tne western coast of England, advance to Beanflot; for they had heard that 
the greatest part of the army, which had settled at Apultreo, had gone thither, and 
that king Haesten had come there with his army from Milton and had there built 
a fortress, but at that moment they were gone forth to plunder. 

For the same king, a short time before, had made peace with King Alfred, and given 
several hostages, and had moreover at the request of King Al&ed, given his two 
sons to be regenerated in the laver of salvation ; one of them was taken from the fountain 
by King Alfred himself, the other by the noble duke iEthered. 

But Haesten, going to Bean- 
flot, quickly made there a 
fortress, and immediately 
plundered the lands of 
iEthered the father of his 

A severe battle was therefore 
fought with the pagans, and 
the Christians, at the first 
shock, put them to flight, 
destroyed their works, and 
seizing on all they could find, 
carriea with them the women 
and children to London. 
Some of the ships they broke 
to pieces, some they burnt, 
and carried the rest either to 

London or Rochester. 
They also took the wife and 
two sons of Haesten, before 
he came back to Beanflot 
from plundering, and these 
they carried to king Alfred. 
But he did them no harm, 
because one of them, as we 
have said before, was his 
[god] son, the other the 
[godJ son of duke ^thered ; 
but he confirmed the peace 
between them, and having 
received hostages not only 

restored the w'ne and sons of but he gave back to Hasteng 
Haesten, at their father's his wife and sons, because 
request, but also gave him a he was their god-father. 

And when he had gone out to 
plunder upon the king, the 
ting broke into the aforesaid 
camp, and there took his 
wife, and children, and 
money, and booty, and ships ; 





Soroii ClirrmicU 


Then be went to Sceobyrig, 
and there built a very strong 
fortress, and was joined by 
the army which had settled 
at Apuldran. 

because one of them was his 
godson, and the other Ethe- 

red's the alderman's. 
They had become their god- 
fathers before Hssten came 
to Beamfleet, and at that 

time HsBsten had delivered to him hostages and taken 
oaths : and the king had also given him many gifts ; and 
80 likewise when he gave up the youths and the woman. 
But as soon as they came to Beamfleet, and the fortress 
was constructed, then plundered he that very part of the 
king's realm which was in the keeping of ^thered his 
compater; and again, this 
second time, he had gone out 
to plunder that very same 
district when his fortress was 

Now the king with his forces 
had turned westward towards 
Exeter, as I said before, and 
the army had beset the 
burgh : but when he 
arrived there, then went they 

to their ships. 
While the king was thus 
busied with the army there, 
in the west, and both the 
other armies had drawn to- 
gether at Shoebury in Essex, 
and there had constructed a 
fortress, then both together 
went up along the Thames, 
and a great addition came to 
them, as well from the East- 
Anglians as from Ihe North- 

They then went up along the 

Thames till they reached the 

Severn; then up along the 

Then Ethered the alderman, 

and iEthelm the alderman, 

and iEthelnoth the alder- 
man, and the king's-thanes 

who where then at home in 

the fortified places, gathered 

forces from every town east 

of the Parret, and as well west 

as east of Selwood, and also 

north of the Thames, and 

west of the Severn, and also 

some part of the North- 
Welsh people. 

And moreover a great multi- 
tude came to him from the 
East Angles and Northum- 
brians ; who hastening up- 
wards beyond the river 
Thames, went plundering to 
the bank of the river Severn, 
and there at Buttington 
built a strong tower. But soon 
Adhered earl of the Mercians, 
with the earls Eathelm and 
Eathelmnoth, and also with 
the other faithful servants of 
the king, laid siege to the 
town on all sides, until food 
failed the pagans, so that 
they ate the flesh of their 
horses, and, at last, compelled 
by hunger, they go out to 
battle against those who were 
on the eastern side of the 

Many fell there on both sides, 
but, with God's help, the 
Christians gained the victory, 
and the Danes were put to 
flight They went back to 
East-Anglia, from whence 
they had come. 

<Rl|tliDerb 894 

in Northumbria, and twice 

devastates the coast, after 

which he returns home. 

In the course of one year 
also, died Guthfrid, king of 
the Northumbrians, on the 
birth-day of Christ's apostle, 
St Bartholomew, whose body 
is buried at York in the high 

The army, which was then in 
the eastern part of the 
country, supplied them with 
reinforcements, and the 
Northumbrian, in the same 

The illustrious duke Ethelm, 
with a squadron of cavalry, 
and duke Ethelnoth, with an 
army of Western- Angles, 
followed behind them, and 
Ethered, earl of the Mercians, 
pressed after them with great 

The youth of both people 
join battle, and the Angles 

obtain the victory. 
These things are said by 
ancient writers to have been 
done at Buttington, and the 
exertions of the Danes ap- 
peared futile ; they again 
ratify peace, give hostages, 
and promise to leave Uiat 

part of the country. 
"When two years were com- 
pleted, from the time that an 
immense fleet came from 
Boulogne to Limns a town 
of the Angles, duke Ethel- 
noth set out from the western 
parts of the Angles, and goes 
from the city of York against 
the enemy, who devastate no 
small tracts of land in the 
kingdom of the Mercians, 
on the west of Stanford ; i. 
E. between the courses of 
the river Weolod and a thick 

wood called Ceoftefne. 

When they had all drawn to- 
gether, then they came up 
with the army at Buttington 
on the bank of the Severn, and there beset them about, on either side, in a fastness. 
When they had now sat there many weeks on both sides of the river, and the king was 
m the west in Devon, agamst the fleet, then were the enemy distressed for want of 
food ; and having eaten a great part of their horses, the others being starved with 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


894 /Unrence 

large sum of money. 



This year died king Guthred. 

Meanwhile the pagan army 
from Beanflot, as we have 
said, being routed by the 
Christians, went to a city in 
Essex called Sceobyrig, and 
built there for themselves a 

strong fortress. 
Many of the pagans from 
East-Anglia and Northum- 
berland having joined them, 
they plundered first the banks 
of the Thames, and then of 
the Severn. Resenting their 
attacks, those noble leaders, 
iEthered iEthelm iEthelnoth 
and other servants of the 
king, whom he had left for 
garrisons in the fortresses, 
towns and cities, not only on 
the eastern side of the Perrot, 
but also on the western side 
of Selwood, and not only on 
the southern but also on the 
northern bank of the river 
Thames, collect a numerous 
army against the enemy, to 
which also was added an 
auxiliary force of Welshmen 
who lived on the western 
bank of the Severn. 

Whilst, therefore, the king 
is going thither, the army, 
that was at Awldre, invaded 
Essex, and made a camp at 

And issuing thence, they 

went as far as Budingtune 

near the Severn, and there 

made a camp. 

From which, however, they 

were driven out by force, 

and fled to their camp in 


But those who had besieged 
Exeter, hearing of the king's 
coming, fled to their ships, 
and stopped out at sea, plun- 

When these were assembled 

into one body, they pursued the enemy, and overtaking them at Buttington on the 
bank of the river Severn, laid siege, on both sides of the river, to the fortress in which 
they had taken refuge. Several weeks passed over ; some of the pagans died of hunger, 
some of them, when they had eaten their horses, burst from the fortress and gave battle 
to those who were on the eastern side of the river, but when many thousands of the 
nagans had been slaiu,and all the others were put to flight, the Christians obtained the victory, 
in this battle the noble Ordeah, and many of the king's servants were slain. 
And when the paeans who fled, returning to East-Saxony, had come to their 
fortress and their snips, winter now coming on, they again gather a large army 
out of East-Anglia and Northumberland, and having placed their wives; their 
money and ships in East-Anglia, and left their fortresses, they march without 

A fourth army came that same year from Northumberland 
as far as Leicester ; but were there besieged, and afflicted 
by so sore a famine, that they ate even their horses. 


Sorim CliromcU Jlmals (tt||tliDtrii 894 

hunger, then wpnt they out against the men who were encamped on the east hank 
of the riveri and fought against Uiem : and the Christians had the victory. 
And Ordheh a king's-thane was there slain, and also many other kingVthanes 
were slain ; and of the Danish-men there was very great slaughter made ; and that 
part which got away thence was saved by flight. 

When they had come into Essex to their fortress and to their ships, then the survivors 
again gathered a great army from among the East-Angles and the North-humbrians 
before winter, and committed their wives and their ships and their wealth to the East- 
Angles, and went at one stretch, day and night, until they arrived at a western city 
in W^irral, which is called Lega-ceaster. 

Then were the forces unable to come up with them before they were within the fortress : 
nevertheless they beset the fortress about for some two days, and took all the cattle 
that was there-without, and slew the men whom they were able to overtake with- 
out the fortress, and burned all the com, and with their horses ate it in every evening. 
And this was about a twelvemonth after they first came hither over sea. 

The aforesaid army of pagans 

wintered in the island which 
is called Mersey. 

A. 895. ] A. 895. 

And then soon after that, in 

this year, the army from Wirral went among the North-Welsh, for they were 

unable to stay there : this was because they had been deprived both of the cattle 

and of the corn which they had plundered. 

When they had turned again out of North- Wales with the booty which they had there 

taken, then went they over North-humbria-land and East-Anelia, in such wise 

that the forces could not overtake them before they came to the eastern parts of 

the land of Essex, to an island that is out on the sea, which is called Mersey. 

And as the army which had beset Exeter again turned homewards, then spoiled they the 

South-Saxons near Chichester; and the townsmen put them to flight, and slew many 

hundreds of them, and took some of their ships. Then that same year, bofore winter, the 

Danish-men who had sat down in Mersey, towed their ships up the Thames, and 

thence up the Lea. This was about two years after they had come hither over sea. 

A. 896. CHARTERS iv 896. None. 

In that same year the fote- 

mentioned army constructed a fortress on the Lea, twenty miles above London, After 
this, in summer, a gtekt body of the townsmen, and also of other people, went onwards 
until they arrived at the Danish fortress; and there they were put to flight, and 
some four king's-thanes were slain. Then after this during harvest, the king encamped 
near to the town, while the people reaped their corn, so that the Danish-men might 
not deprive them of the crop. Then on a certain day the king rode up along the river, 
and observed where the river might be obstructed, so that they would be unable to bring 
out their ships. And they men did thus : they constructed two fortresses, on 
the two sides of the river. When they had already begun the work, and had encamped 
there-beside, then perceived the army that they should not be able to bring out their 
ships. They then abandoned them, and went across the country till they arrived at 
Cwatbridge by the Severn ; and there they constructed a fortress. Then the forces 
rode westwards after the army : and the men of London took possession of the 
ships ; and all which they could not bring away they broke up and those which 
there were ' stalworth ' they brought to London : moreover the Danish-men had 
committed their wives to the keeping of the East-Angles before they went out from 
their fortress. Then sat they down for the winter at Cwatbridge. This was about 
three years after they had come hither over sea to Limene-mouth. 

A. 897. 

After this, in the summer of Haateng, with the armies that charters ik M7. Dnke 

this year, the army broke up, adhered to him, in the 3rd Ethelwoif. ll, 127. 

some for East-Anglia, some year after they came to the 

for North-humbria , and they mouth of the river Thames 

who were moneyless procured and to the mouth of the river 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901, 


897 /Unrtirt 



intenxiiflsion and enter the city of Legions, called in Saxon Legeceaitre, at that 
time deserted, before the army of Alfred and the underking ^thered, who 
were following, could overtake them. Some of them, however, they took and nut 
to death, re-taking all the sheep and oxen which they had gained by plunder: they 
then besieged the city two days, and gave some of the stanmng com to their horses, 
burning the rest. AU this was done after the revolution of one year from the 
time when they had left the coasts of Gaul, and entered the mouth of the Limene. 


In the 23rd year of king 
Alfred, the Danes, who were 
in Leicester, went round 
through North Wales and 
Northumberland to Mersey, 
an island in Essex. 

CHARTERS ik 895. King 

Alfebd, •ubflcribed alio by Pleg* 
mund archbishop of Canterburj, 
Ethelbald of Yorlc,nineiother bishops, 
"Grimbaldus sacerdos," ** Johannes 
abbas." " Eadrediu comes," " Ethel- 
redus Gainorum dux,'* " ^Iswytha 
regina" and " iEthelrediu dux 
Mcrcionixn," II, 125. 

And, because they did not 

The before-named army of 

the pagans, not having the 

means of subsistence — for 

the Christians had taken 

every thing from them — 

enter the land of the South- 
ern Britons, and devastating 

it far and wide, carry off with them a very great booty. 

dare to return through Mercia for fear of the Mercians, they went first through 

Northumberland, then through the Mediterranean Angles, and having taken 

their wives and ships in East-Anglia, entered an island called Meresig situated on 

the sea-coast in the eastern part of East-Saxony. 

Afterwards, roused by the But the army that had be- 
sieged Exeter, was caught 
plundering near Ciceastre, 
where they lost many of their 
men, and lost some of their 

sufferings of his men afore- 
said, he [Alfred] reached 
Exeter, & the pagans terrified 
at his coming, fled to their 
ships, and so returning to 
their seats, near the city which 
is called in English Cissacea»- 
tre, in the province of the 
South-Saxons, they carried off booty, 

The aforesaid army which 
besieged Exancestre, ravaged 
every thing round Cissaces- 
tre. But not long after they 
were put to the rout by those 
who were in the city, many 
of them were slain, and many 
of their ships were taken. 

But being routed by the inhabitants of that 

city, the greater part of them were wounded or slain, and many of their ships taken. 

2 896. 
1 In the same year they drew 
their ships up the river 
Thames, and afterwards up 
the river Lieea, and be^an 
to build for themselves a for- 
tress near the river, 20 miles 

from London. 
In the summer-time, a great 
part of the citizens of Lon- 
don, and many from the 
neighbouring places, endea- 
vour to destroy the fortress 
which the pagans had made 
for themselves, but their re- 
sistance was so great, that 
the Christians 

In the following year, the army that was on the river Lee, 
made a camp near that same river, 20 miles from London. 
1 And afterwards, in the winter, they drew their ships up the 
Thames into the river Luye [Lea]. 

But the Londoners came to that camp, and fighting with 
the Danes, slew 4 of their leaders, and Almighty God 
at a timely moment gave the victory to his true followers. 
When the Danes had fled into their camp, the king 
caused the water of the Lea to be divided into three arms, 
that they might not be able to convey back their ships on 
it. The Danes, perceiving this, left their ships, and went as 
far as Quadruse near the Severn, and there made a camp, and 
wintered on the spot : having sent their wives for safety into 
Blast- Anglia. The king with nis army pursued them. 
But the Londoners' carried to London some of their ships 
which they had left, and burnt the rest. 

are jput to 
flight and four of kmg Al- 
fred's officers are slain. But the king himself, in the autumn, measured out his camp not far 
from the city, in order to prevent the pagans from carrying off the crops of the provincials. 
But one day as the king was riding along the river's bank, he considered where he could 
find a favorable place for blocking up the river, that the Danes might not be able 
to extricate their ships ; and without delay, he ordered his men to begin making a 
barrier on both sides of the river. When the pagans perceived this, they again committed 
their wives to the care of the East-Angnans, and leaving their snips, went on 
foot a rapid march to a place called Quatbricg, and having built for themselves a fortress, 
they passed the winter there. Meanwhile the Londoners carried some of their ships to 
London and broke up the rest. 

' 897^^ ' 



Sorott (tl^roiticU 


aVftimtxi 897 

Limen, crossed the sea with* 
out gain and without honour, 
but| having lost many of his 
companions , he put in at the 
mouth of the river Seine. 

themselves ships there, and 
went southwards over sea to 
the Seine. Thanks be to God 
the army had not utterly 
broken down the English 
nation ; but during the uiree 
years was it much more broken down by the mortality which broke out among 
cattle and among men, and most of all by this, that many of the most eminent 
king's-thanes in the land died during the three years: some of whom were, Swithulf 
bishop of Rochester, and Ceolmund alderman of Kent, and Beorhtulf alderman of 
Essex, and Wulfred alderman of Hamtunshire, and Ealheard bishop of Dorchester, 
and Eadulf the king's-thane in Sussex, and Beornwulf the *wio-reeve' at Winchester, 
and Ecgulf the king's horse^thane, and many also besides these, though I have named the 
most famous. That same year the armies from among the Elast-Anglians and from among 
the North-humbrians harassed the land of the West- Saxons, chiefly on the south coast, by pre- 
datory bands ; most of all by their * sscs,' which they had built many years before. 
Then king Alfred commanded long ships to be built to oppose the sescs; they were 
full-nigh twice as long as the others ; some had sixty oars, and some had more : they 
were both swifter and steadier, and also higher than the others. They were shapen 
neither like the Frisian nor the Danish, but so as it seemed to him that they 
would be most efficient Then some time in the same year, there came six ships to 
Wight, and there did much harm, as well as in Devon, and elsewhere along the sea- 
coast. Then the king commanded nine of the new ships to go thither, and they 
obstructed their passage from the port towards the outer sea. Then went they 
with three of their ships out against them ; and three lay in the upper part of the port 
in the dry ; the men were gone from them ashore. Then took they two of the 
three ships at the outer part of the port, and killed the men, and the other ship 
escaped; in that also the men were killed except five: they got away because the 
other ships were aground. They also were aground very disadvantageously : three lay 
aground on that side of the deep on which the Danish ships were aground, and all 
the rest upon the other side, so that no one of them could get to the others. But when 
the water had ebbed many furlongs from the ships, then the Danish-men went from 
their three ships to the other three which were left by the tide on their side, and then 
they there fought against them. There was slain Lucumon the king's reeve, 
and Wulfheard the Frisian, and ^bbe the Frisian, and ^thelhere the Frisian, and 
JEthelferth the king's geneat, and of all the men, Frisians and Enelish, seventy-two; 
and of the Danish-men one hundred and twenty. Then, however, tne flood-tide came 
to the Danish ships before the Christians could shove theirs off, and they therefore rowed 
them out: nevertheless, they were damaged to such a degree that they could not row 
round the Sussex land; and there the sea cast two of them on shore, and the men 
were led to the king at Winchester ; and he commanded them to be there 
hanged : and the men who were in the single ship came to East-Anglia, sorely wounded. 
That same summer no less than twenty ships, w^ith their crews, wholly perished upon the 
Bouth coast. Tliat same year died Wulftic, the king's horse-thane ; he was also * Wealh-reeve.' 

A. 898. 

In this year died ^thelm, 
alderman of Wiltshire, nine 
days before midsummer 

SJune 15] : and this year 
lied Heuhstan, who was 
bishop of London. 

CHARTERS in 898. 1. King 
Alfred, subscribed also " Ead- 
weard rex banc regis donationem 
stabilito" and by others. II, 128. 

Meanwhile, after four years 
from the time that the above- 
named king died, there was 
a great discord among the 
English, because the foul 
bands of the Danes still re- 
mained throughout North- 

An. 898. 
The emperor Amulf died, 
and Louis his son was raised 

to be king. 
In the same year Rollo with 
his army besieged the city 
of Chartres, but the bishop 
of that same city, named 
Walthelm, a most religious 
man, called Richard duke of Burgundy and Ebal count of 
Poictiers to his help, and bearing (,in his hands the shift 
of the blessed Virgin Mary, he drove back duke Rollo by 
the divine will, and freed the city. 

A. 899. 

CHARTERS ik 899. 1. Wcm- 

YKiTa, bishop of Winchester, II, 

129. 2. Another of Wehfkitu, 
without a date, is at II, 131. 3. 
A third, of King ALFKKD,and sub- 

scribed "Signum Adwardi filii regis,** 
at II, ISO, lias no date, but must 
belong to some year about this time. 

FROM A. D. 849 TO 901. 


899 /Imirt 

In the summer-time; the 
army of the pagans, which 
had wintered at Quathricge, 
went partly to East-Anglia, 
partly to Northumberland, 
Some of them remained there 
but others, getting possession 
of some ships, went to the 
river Seine before-mentioned. 
O with what frequent vexa- 
tions, with how severe suffer- 
ings, in what a dreadful and 
lamentable manner, was all 
England annoyed, not only 
by the Danes, who had then 
occupied the parts of Eng- 
land, but also by those chu- 
dren of Satan. But it suf- 
fered much more, for three 
years, bv a murrain among 
the cattle, and the death of 
noble men, who about that 
time departed this life. 
Among whom was Suithulf 
prelate of the church of 
Rochester, Ealheard bishop 
of Dorchester, Ceolmund 
duke of Kent, Beorhtulf 
duke of Essex, Eadulf the 
king's officer in Sussex, 
Beomulf provost of Winches- 
ter, Ecgulf the king's strator, 
and many others, but these 
were the most uoble. 

In the same year, the army 
of the pagans, settled in Gast- 
Anglia and Northumberland, 
canying off booty along the 
sea-coasts, severely harassed 
the laud of the West-Saxons, 
mostly in long and swift eal- 
leys, which themselves had 
made some years before. To 
oppose these other ships were 
made by Alfred's orders, 
twice as lone, higher, swifter 
and less shaky, so as to beat 
the above-named ships of the 
enemy in strength 



Thus, during the three years 

aforesaid, namely from the time that the Danes had 
entered the port of Limene, these did much harm to the 
English, but themselves suffered much greater harm. 
But in the 4th year, the army was divided : some went into 
Northumberland, some into East-AngUa, and others 
crossing the sea, entered the Seine. 

But afterwards, some ships of the Danes came near the 
shores of Wessex, and making frequent invasions, at 
one time plundeinng, and at another fighting, they did no 
small damage to the provincials of Wessex. 
Of the many fights tnat then took place, I will relate |one, 
as having been attended with an unusual issue. 
King Alfred caused some long ships, of 40 oars or more, 
to be got ready against the aforesaid ships of the Danes. 
And whilst six of the Danish ships were lyn^S somewhere 
on the coast of Devonshire, they were surprised by nine 
of the king's ships. The Danes seeing this, moved 
against them with three only of their ships, for the other 
three were stranded and could not move because the tide 
was out Six ships, therefore, of the English fought against 
three of the Danes: whilst the other three went against 
Uie throe Danish ships that were stranded. The three 
Danish ships fought long and desperately against the six ; 
but numbers at last prevailed, and two of the Danes were 
taken ; the third fled, after all her crew had been killed 
except five. This being done, when the English wished to 
return to their companions which were near the Danish 
ships on the opposite shore,they were stranded ; and the Danes 
seem? this, left their own ships and fought against the 
English who were in the three ships. Then might you have 
seen the English people of the six ships looking at the 
batUe, and unable to bear them help, beating their 
breasts with their hands, and tearing their hair with their 
nails. The English fought manfully, and the Danes 
bravely attacked them. Forty two Eaglishmen were 
slain, and 120 of the Danes. But the Danes slew Luche- 
man the commander of the king's fleet who pressed upon 
them too boldly; on which account the English 
gave way a little, and the Danes almost seemed to be 
victorious. But, lo ! the tide came up, and floated the 
vessels : the Danes got out to sea, and the 9 English ships were 
too late to overtake them. But a foul wind assailed the 
victorious Danes and cast two of their ships on shore : 
the crews were taken, brought before the king, and hanged 
at Winchester: but those who were in the third ship, 
landed, much crippled, in East-Anglia. 
In that same year, 20 ships with their crews were cast 
away round the northern coasts. 

these were sent out to sea, the king ordered them to take alive all they could, and to slay the 
rest. Wherefore it came to pass that 20 ships of Danish pirates were taken alive in that same 
year ; of whom some were slain, some brought alive to the king, and hanged on the gallows. 



In the year 899 



A. 900. 

A. 901. 

This year died Alfred, son 

of ^thulf, six days before 

All-Hallowmass [Oct. 261. 

He was king over the whole 

English nation, except that 

Salt which was unaer the 
ominion of the Danes ; and 
he held the kingdom one 
year and a half less than 
thirty years. And then 
Edward his son succeeded to 
the kingdom. 


Heahstan bishop of London 
died ; to whom succeeded 
Theodred. Eardulf bishop 
of Lindisfame died, to whom 
succeed the religious Cuth- 


That famous, warlike, victo- 
rious [kino] ; the zealous 
protector of widows, pupils, 
orphans, and poor; skilled 
in the Saxon poets ; dear to 
his own race, affable and 
liberal to all ; endued with 
prudence, fortitude, justice, 
and temperance; most pa- 
tient under the infirmity, 
which he daily suffered; a 
most discreet inquisitor in 
executing justice ; vigilant 
and devoted in the service 
of God; Alfred king of the 
Angul-Saxons, son of the 
pious king Atheluulf ; having 
reigned 29 vears and 6 
months, died, m the 4th In- 
diction, on Wednesday the 
6th before the calends of No- 
vember, [Oct. 27], and was 
buried at Winchester in the 
New Minster, where with 
the just he awaits a glorious 

* Some of the MSS. of Amct re- 
cord, in a note written by a later 
hand, that king Alfred died on the 
26th of October, a. d. 900. in the thir- 
tieth of his reign. "The different 
dates assigned to the death of Al- 
fred/* say* Sir Pranciti Palgrave, 
•' afford a singular proof of the un- 
certainty Arising from various modes 
of compuUtion. The Saxon Croni- 
cle and Florence of Worcester agree 
In placing the event in 901. The 
flrit ' six nights before All Saints ; * 
the Utt, with more precision, ' Indic- 

tione quartn, et Feria quarta, 5 Cal. Nov.* Simeon of Durham, in ^99, 

and Oip 8 ixon Chronicle, in another passage, in 900. The concurrents 

wf Florence of Worrcster seem to afford the Breatest certainty, and 

the date of 901 has therefore been perferred." 

A. 900. 

Alfred, truly so called, a man 
most strenuous in all things 
in battle, and the noble king 
of the Westp-Saxons, but pru- 
dent and religious and most 
wise, this year, to the great 
sorrow of all his people, went 
the way of all flesh, on the 
7th before the calends of 
November [Oct. 26] in the 
29 and half 'th year of his 
reign : in the 51st year of his 
age, Indiction 6. He was 
buried becomingly and with 
kingly honour in the royal 
city of Winchester, in the 
church of St Peter piince of 
the apostles. His tomb also 
is still extant, made of the 
most precious porphyry 

CHARTERS rir 900. None. 

CHARTERS IN 901. 1. Ethzl- 
KXD duke of Mercia, II, 136. 2. 

Anonymous, II, 133. 
The first of these, if given after Oct. 
26, when king Alflred died, belongs to 
the reign of his son lid ward the Elder. 
The latter furnishes no clue to its 
exact date. Three other Charters, 
found at II, 135, 138. 140, 141, bear 
the date of 901 , and the name of Ed- 
ward : they were consequently given 
after Oct. 25, 901. 


King Alfred, having reigned 
28 years and half over all 
England, except those parts 
which were subject to the 
Danes, felt the sting of death. 
Of his toilsome rule, and 
irremediable afflictions, we 
have thought it right to 
speak in versification : 

Innate nobility hath given thee honour, 

Brave Alfred ; and thy honour hath brought toil, 

Thy toil hath given thee lasting reputation. 

Joy mixed with grief was thine, hope blent with fesr, 

When victor, thou didst fear to fight o* the morrow ; 

Beaten, wast ready for tomorrow's fight. 

Thy robes dropp'd sweat, thy sword dropp'd blood, and shewed, 

How heavy task it was to be a king. 

Through all earth's climes none but thyself e'er lived, 

With power to breathe ' neath such calamities. 

Defeat ne'er struck the sword from his hand's grasp, 

Nor could the sword cut short his thread of life. 

But now his toils of life and rule are done. 

And may Christ give him rest and rule for ever. 

(ttlitliDerb 901 

Lastly, in the same year, 
king Alfred departed out of 

this world ; 
that immoveable pillar of 
the Western Saxons, that 
man full of justice, bold in 
arms, learned in speech, and, 
above all other things, im- 
bued with the divine instruc- 
For he had translated into 
his own language, out of 
Latin, unnumbered volumes, 
of so varied a nature, and 
so excellentlv, that the sor- 
rowful booK of Boethius 
seemed, not only to the 
learned, but even to those 
who heard it read, as it were, 

brought to life again. 
The monarch died on the 
seventh day before the feast 
of All Saints [Oct. 25], and 
his body rests in peace in 

the city of Winton. 

Pray, O reader, to Christ our 

Redeemer, that he will save 

his soul ! 

King Elfred died when he 

had reigned 28 years. 
To whom succeeded his son 
Edward, who had been dili- 
gently admonished by his 
father especially to honour 

Saint Cuthbert. 
Bishop Eardulf also died in 
Cunceceastre, wither he had 
transferred the body of Saint 
Cuthbert; with which he had 
fled during 9 years from 
place to place, in much hard- 
ship, and went before the 

army of the pagans. 

To whom succeeded Cuth- 

eard in the bishopric 




Although the researches of English and Continental Antiquaries 
prove the very close resemblance in many respects between the 
manners and customs of the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, one 
vast difference is clearly apparent ; namely, the constitution of 
their mints. While the coinage of the Franks consisted, for the 
far greater part, of gold, that of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, with 
the exception of the styca of copper, struck in the mints of 
Northumbria only, consisted almost exclusively of silver, of which 
the sole denominations that have come down to us, are the penny 
and the half-penny, very few specimens, however, of the latter 
being known. 

Ruding, in his Annals of the coinage of Great Britain, has the 
following remarks : '' Those, who deny that the Saxons possessed 
any knowledge of the art of coinage before they landed in Britain, 
will find it extremely difficult to point out the source from whence 
they derived it after their arrival ; for the Anglo-Saxon money 
bears not, either in form, tj^pe or weight, the least resemblance to 
those coins which at that time were the current specie of this 

After observing that "the barbarous workmanship of the 
British coins could not have excited their attention," he expresses 
his surprise that the Britons should have continued their own rude 
method of coining " in preference to the beautiful specimens of 
Roman art, which were constantly before their eyes." 

SMSfl 17 


It is very clear from this that the laborious author of the 
Annals had but slight practical acquaintance with the subject, 
however valuable his work may be regarded as a compilation 
from written documents. To the general reader a detailed des- 
cription of the various rude coins which must have been struck 
and circidated in this country after the departure of the Romans, 
would be tedious, and, without the assistance of illustrations, 
wholly impracticable. Long ere the once masters of the world 
withdrew for ever from their Island possession, their coins had 
ceased to be '' beautiful specimens of art," and long previous to the 
introduction of Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons, they 
attempted to copy the degenerate types of the Roman money. 

Nor was the desire to imitate better examples abandoned on 
the introduction of Christianity, as we may perceive in some of 
the pennies of Edweard the first, on which is an evident attempt to 
copy the representation of the gate of the praetorian camp as 
found on the coins of Rome, from the reign of Diocletian to that 
of Theodosius. A coin of Ciolwulf, found at Preston, furnishes 
still stronger evidence, since the reverse is a palpable copy of 
the common reverse of the gold coins of Valentinian, on which 
are represented the two sitting figures of the emperors crowned 
by Victory hovering above them.* 

It is thus evident that the Anglo-Saxons did not disdain the best 
models of coinage then existing, and that the rudeness of their 
own money is not attributable to an unwillingness to copy but 
rather to a want of ability to execute coins equal to the rude ex- 
amples of the Roman currency at its worst period. 

As regards the weight of the Anglo-Saxon penny, it was ori- 
ginally of 24 grains, hence the term '' penny weight." Now the 
Quinarius or half denarius of the Roman Empire, from the time of 
Arcadius and Honorius to the reign of Justin, is of very common 
occurrence even at this day, and no doubt circulated abundantly 
throughout the Roman dominions. It weighs on an average 24 
grains, a fact which leads to the inference that the Saxon penny 
was accommodated in weight to the Roman coins which must have 
continued in circulation long after they were minted, and were pro- 

(1) This coin is engraved in the Numismatic Chronicle^ vol. v, p. 10. It is not unlikely 
that the Victory here represented is intended hy the Anglo-Saxon artist to represent the 
third personage of the Trinity : see on this suhject a note hy the writer in the Numismatic 
Chronicle, vol. xii, p. 79. 


bably, for a considerable period, current throughout those coun- 
tries which had been wrested from the Romans by the Teutonic 
tribes. It is not contended that these tribes had not a style 
of their own, but it may be safely asserted that the influence 
of Roman art is visible in their ornaments and utensils ; while the 
necessity of some conformity with an almost universal coinage 
was imperative. Notwithstanding this, we find many Saxon coins 
totally dissimilar in type to those of the Romans ; on a consider* 
able number the name of the King, and that of the Moneyer alone 
appears without any attempt to n-epresent an effigy, but this, as 
before observed, cannot be attributed so much to design as 
to want of skill; on the contrary, when it does appear, as on 
many of the pennies of Alfred, it is very plainly an attempt to 
imitate the Imperial effigy on the coins of the lower empire with 
the diadem encircling the head. 

In the reign of Athelstan, notices of the Saxon mints first 
occur. In the laws of that King it is declared that no one shall 
mint money except within the walls — butan on port, • that those 
who work in a wood or elsewhere unauthorised shall suffer 
amputation of the hand,* and that there shall be in Canterbury 
seven moneyers ; in Rochester, three ; in London, eight ; in 
Winchester, six ; at Lewes two ; at Hastings, one ; at Chichester 
one; at Hampton, two; at Wareham, two ; at Exeter, two; at 
Shaftsbury, two ; at the other towns one.* 

The English numismatists of the last century have discussed 
at considerable length the possibility of the Anglo-Saxons having 
struck gold in their mints. We shall not here review their argu- 
ments ; it will be sufficient to observe that the evidence on either 
side is often inconclusive, and at times at utter variance with facts, 
while examples are cited which only serve to shew the utter want 
of practical acquaintance with the subject. While one side 
maintained that no gold was ever coined in the Anglo-Saxon mints, 
simply because we have no written record of the fact, the other 
produced examples in opposition to this opinion, in utter ignorance 
that the pieces thus adduced as evidence were of Merovingian 
origin. Pegge not only attempted to prove the Anglo-Saxon 
origin of one of these coins, but did not hesitate to assign it to 
the mint of York in the beginning of the tenth century. 

(2) iEthelstanes Domas, c. 14. (3) slea man of )'a hand )>e he pxi Ml mid worhte. Ibi d 
(4) EUes to ]?am oi^rura burgum, I. iEthelstanes Domas, c. 14. 


Some years since a gold piece bearing the stamp of the very 
common pennies of Edward the Confessor was shown in London. 
Some of our best nmnismatists were satisfied of its authenticity, but 
admitting this to be established beyond a doubt, it affords of 
itself no evidence of an Anglo-Saxon coinage in gold. Pieces, 
however, assimilating in weight to that of the Merovingian gold 
triens and of rude fabric, have been discovered in England, and 
there is also a coin in the national collection at Paris, on the 
reverse of which DOROVERNIS occurs. This piece is assigned 
by French numismatists to England. It is of much neater fabric 
than the great majority of the Merovingian gold coins.* Besides 
these, there are some coins adjusted to the same weight, having a 
bare head, evidently not a regal portrait, and the legend LVND. 
These pieces have never been discovered on the continent, while 
examples have been found in and near London. The remarkable 
find of Merovingian coins on Bagshot heath included some of 
these pieces, and if it cannot be actually proved that they are* of 
Anglo-Saxon mintage, it will be exceedingly difficult to assign to 
them any other origin.* 

Whether the pieces called sceattas, of which examples are given 
in Ruding's 1st and 2nd plate, are the earhest attempts of the Anglo- 
Saxons to coin money, may perhaps be questioned, but there ap- 
pears no reason for doubting that these may be reckoned among 
their first efforts at a regular coinage ; several are without the 
Christian symbol, but, as many appear with it, it is probable that 
they are almost coeval with each other. As the word sceat signi- 
fies in Anglo-Saxon a part or portion, and as scatt in the Gospels 
of Ulphilas is used indifferently for a pound, a penny, or money 
generally, it was probably appUed to those pieces which are by 
numismatists called sceattas, as the chief national coin then in 
general use by the Anglo-Saxons, the Roman copper money, doubt- 
less still in circulation, supplying the smaller denominations ; yet at 
the end of the seventh century it appears to have been the smallest 
coin in actual currency, as we may infer from the proverb ne sceat 
NE sciLLiNG i. c. '^ from the least to the greatest." 

The penny is first mentioned in the laws of Ina. The derivation 
of the name is still open to the investigations of the etymologist 
Some have derived it from the Celtic pen, a head ; and although 

(5) Numismatic Chronicle, Jvol. ii, p. 204 ; and vol. iv, p. 120. 

(6) Ibid. vol. vi, p. 171. 


this may be questioned^ since the Saxon coins do not always bear 
the regal head^ we have the example in later times of the testoon, a 
name given to the first English shilling, notwithstanding most of 
the English coins from the Conquest to that period, bore the 
royal portrait. Examples of the Saxon penny and the half 
penny, have come down to us, though, as already observed, but 
very few of the latter. Of the farthing, no specimens exist in 
the cabinets of our collectors, a remarkable fact when the value 
of the penny in Saxon times is considered. In the laws of Canute 
the half penny is stated to be the value of the wax charged on 
every hide of land for leoht-gesceot church sceat, or church 

The styca, a small copper coin about the size of the sceatta, 
appears to have been struck solely by the princes of Northumbria 
and the arch-bishops of York. Its value occurs incidentally in 
the gospel of Saint Mark, where the ^'two mites" are termed 

Some of our numismatic antiquaries have maintained that the 
pound, the mancus, the mark, the ora, the thrymsa and the shilling, 
were current coin and not merely money of accoimt. There 
cannot be a doubt that the shilling was the division of the pound, 
and that the term is derivable from scylan, to divide. With the 
exception of the mancus, these denominations appear not to 
designate coined money, but we frequently meet with mancusses 
of gold and mancusses of silver in Anglo-Saxon wills and charters, 
and a piece of money first noticed by M. de Longperier throws 
evident light on the subject. On the 24th of March, 1842, this 
gentleman communicated to the Numismatic Society of London 
an account of a gold coin of king Offa in the cabinet of the Due 
de Blacas, of the weight and size of the gold Arabic Dinar. It is, 
as usual with these coins, nearly covered with oriental characters, 
but in the centre are the words OFFA. REX. M. de Longperier 
thinks with reason, that this is a specimen of the often men- 
tioned but long sought for mancus, and he founds his opinion upon 
the fact that the Arabic word nakasha is rendered in Freytag's 
Dictionary, cudit nummos, while the passive participle, mancush, 
is very often used by Arabic writers, and signifies a coin whether 
of gold or silver. The piece in question is doubtless a copy by 

(7) Healf-penig-wer^ wexes set aslcere hide. C. 12. 

(8) Twegen stycas, )>aet is, feoi^ung peninges. Mark, xii, 42. 


an Anglo-Saxon moneyer of an Arabic dinar with the name of 
Offa interpolated ; and as the discovery of Arabic coins in hoards 
of Saxon money shews that they circulated in Europe at this 
period, there seems every reason to believe that this remarkable 
and unique example was adjusted to the weight of the gold 
Arabic dinar. 

In the Numismatic Chronicle, vol. v, p- 123, will be foimd 
our remarks confirming the opinion entertained by M. de Long- 
p^rier which are as follows: — ^"'Ruding, after observing that 
the word Mancus, is variously written Mancos, Manes, and 
Mancuse, supposes the term to be derived from Italy, and notic- 
ing the conjectures of other writers, who suppose it to be formed 
from manu cusum, concludes that the term cusus could not have 
reference to simple weight It is singular that he goes on to 
remark on the probability of the coin, as well as the name, being 
imported, without suspecting their Arabic origin. The mancus, 
according to Archbishop Aelfric, was equal in value to thui;y 
pennies,' and in the laws of Henry the 1st we find it so estimated.' 
Now the weight of the gold penny of Henry the third is a little 
more than forty five grains, and it was current for twenty pence, 
its value being subsequently raised to twenty four pence or two 
shilUngs. The weight of the gold Arabic dinars of this period is 
about 66 grains, or one third more than that of the gold penny, — 
a fact which seems to set at rest all doubt as to the correctness of 
M. de Longperier's conjectiu-e that the coin with the name of 
Offa is really a specimen of the long sought for vnancus. That 
Arabic coins were occasionally current in England dining the 
Anglo-Saxon period we may believe from the circumstance of 
their forming a part of the treasure discovered recently at Cuer- 
dale. It is true that these coins are silver, but it may be safely 
conjectured that they represent the mancus of silver, mancusses of 
gold and silver being mentioned in the writings of this period." — * 

The money of our Anglo-Saxon princes generally bears the 

(9) Libra on Leyden is Pund on Englisc. fif penegas gemacigaiK anne scillinge and 
]?rittig penega anne manca. Saxon Gram, by Aelfric. 

(1) Overseunesse regis est, in causis communibus, xx mane, quae facient AO. sol. Leg. 
Hen. I, XXXV, § 1. 

(2) Since this was written, a work has been published by the Royal Academy of Sweden, 
entitled" Numi Cufici Regii Numophylacii Holmiensis, quos omnes in terra Sueciarepertos." 
Upsalse, 1848, to which the reader is referred for evidence of the circulation of these coins 
in £urope. 


title REX, but on some of Anlaf s pennies we find CYNYNC. 
Those of the sole monarchs do not differ materially from the 
coins of the Heptarchy. Ecgbeorht's and Ethelwulfs bear 

Among the many varieties of the types of Edward the Confessor, 
there is one which differs from any in the Anglo-Saxon series : it 
represents the king seated in a chair of state, crowned and holding 
the septre and the globe, a mode of representation revived on the 
gold penny of Henry the Third. 

It is a fact worthy of notice, that the pennies of William the 
Conquorer were struck on the model of those of the last Anglo- 
Saxon monarch ; indeed many can only be distinguished by the 
legend^ which is given in the Anglo-Saxon character and language, 
a striking proof of the policy of this tyrant, who, while rigorously 
upholding his authority, prudently forbore to meddle with the 
coinage of his newly acquired territory. 

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Of the coins of Alfred, formerly very rare, we now possess a 
considerable variety. Some of their types are in the highest 
degree interesting, and their succession is easily determined by 
comparison with those of the coins of contemporary princes and 
prelates, and with one another. 

1. ELFERED M"X+ Bust to the right. 

+ TATA MONETA Moneyer's name between two semi- 
circular segments enclosing his designation. 

British Museum. Pl. I, Fia. 1. 

^* +P'iEDWIX"+ 1 Same types as the last 

W. H. Sheppard Esq. Pl. I, pig. 2. 

The occurrence of the letters MX on these two coins is remar- 
kable. There are coins of Ethelred, the brother and predecessor 
of Alfred, of the same type as these, which read REX + AEflEL- 
RED M, and might be understood as indicating a claim on the 
part of Ethelred to the sovereignty of Mercia. But such can 
hardly be the meaning of these letters on the coins of Alfred. 
On the contrary, I should prefer taking them, on these, as well 
as on the coins of Ethelred, as expressing the place of mintage. 

3. ELFERED REX | Same types as the above. 


British Museum. Pl. I, Fio. 3. 

These three coins are very different in their workmanship from 

> Same types as the above. 


those of a similar type which follow ; and in this respect they 
more closely resemble the coin of Ethelred above referred to, 
than any others of his coins. 

4. + AELBRED RE + 

British Mosbdm. Pl. I, Fio. 4, 

This type presents the following names of moneyers ; 






5. + AELBRED RE+ Bust to the right. 

SIEESTEF MONETA This type differs from the forego- 
ing, having the arcs of the segments broken in the middle, and 
bent inwards. I know of no other coin of this type. 

British Museum. PI. I, Fio. 5. 

6. + AELBRED RE + Bust to the right. 

CIALVLF MONETA In three lines separated by bars 
curved at the ends. 

British Museum. PI. I, Fio. 6. 

This type presents the following names of moneyers ; 


Coins of the three last types are always of very base metal, 
and, like those of Ethelred and of Burgred King of Mercia, rarely 
exceed 20 grains in weight. The spelling of the king's name with 
B is remarkable : no other instance of this spelling is to be found 
on the coins of Alfred, although the use of B for F in some Saxon 
names is not uncommon. 

I place these coins first, because their resemblance to the coins 
of Ethelred and Burgred leads me to consider them as being 
Alfred's earliest coinage. Of that which I think should follow, a 
fragment only remains. 

7 ED REX Bust to the right. 

The remains of its reverse shew that when perfect it presented 
the same type and the same legend, EflERED MONETA, as the 
beautiful unique penny of archbishop Ethered, with the head, 
(probably of Alfred), in the same collection as this. 

BuTifH Mvfsux. PI. I. Fio. 7. 

The two coins which follow are the only ones to which we 


cannot satisfactorily assign a place in the series, as they are quite 
different in their types from all the rest. 

8. ALFRED + Bust to the right. 

^T GLEAPA A tau connected at its extremities 

with the edge of the piece by beaded lines. 

BaiTiiH Museum, PI. I, Fio. 8. 

This coin is remarkable, not only on account of its type, but 
for the legend on the reverse being in Saxon, instead of in Latin, 
for the prefix ^T to the name of the mint, and for its being the 
earliest coin known of that mint, viz. Gloucester. The prefix ^T 
to the names of places was not unusual during the Heptarchic 
period, as any one conversant with charters of that period will 
acknowledge. The following extracts may be adduced in illustra- 
tion of this. 

Bissenos agros quam incolse hujusce regionis sic vocitant, ^t Ulenbeorge, 

Charter of Coshred Kino of Msrcia, A. D. 709. 

In loco qui dicitur at Beathum XC manentium, et in aliis multis locis : hoc 
est at Siretforda XXX cassatos j at Sture XXXVIII. Simili etiam vocabulo 
at Sture in U»merum XIIII manentium, jEt Breodune XII, &c. 

Charter of Heathoreo Bp. or Worcester, A. D. 781. 

See also the instance At Sandwich, p. 13 of the Harmony of the 
Chroniclers in this volume. 

9. + AELFR^D REX Written cross-wise. 

William Aiiheton Esq. PI. I. Fio. 9. 

The neatness and elegance of this coin remind us of the coins 
of Offa king of Mercia ; and its reverse type closely resembles 
that of some of the Mercian coins. The cruciform disposition of 
the obverse legend finds a parallel on the reverses of the coins of 
Ethehvulf and Ethelbert. 

10. During the progress of some excavations in St Paul's 
Churchyard, London, in the year 1841, there was found a piece 
of lead, nearly an inch and a half square, and half an inch thick, 
having on each side a deeply indented impression from the obverse 
and reverse of a penny die of Alfred, of the type which next de- 
mands our attention. It would seem to have been a trial piece, 
struck from an unfinished die, and it is defaced on the obverse, 
apparently to prevent an improper use being made of it. The 
money er's name seems to have been EALDVLF. 

C. R. Smith Eso, PI. I, Fxo. 10. 

A coin in the British Museum (21), one in Mr Cuffs collection 
(20) and a fragment in that of the late Sir John Twisden, were 


all that were known of this type before the disinterment of the 
Cuerdale hoard. In that hoard fifteen specimens were found, 
including the fragments 17 and 18 ; and of the whole number of 
this type now known all the important varieties will be found 
figured in Plate II. 

11. + iCLFRED REX SA + Bust to the right 

EADVLF MONETA A cross saltire within a lozenge, 
which is connected with the margin of the coin by a beaded 
line ; three pellets at one side. 

RxY. T. F. Dtmock. pi. II, Fxo. I. 

12. ELF RED REX SimUar bust 

LIAFVALO MON. This differs from the preceding 

in having a cross bar at each angle of the lozenge. 


13. AELFRED REX S SimUar bust. 

DYNNA MONETA Same type with a pellet at 

each side of the lozenge. 

J. D. Cvtw E«a. PI. II, Fie. ». 

14. ELFRED REX SimUar bust 

+ OTRHTMVND for TORHTMVND. The lines which 
connect the lozenge with the margin are not beaded ^ in this 

Bbitish Mvisvm, pi. II, Fio. 4. 

15. /ELFRED REX SAX Similar bust. 

YYLFREO MONETA Same type as 13, with three pel- 
lets on each side of the lozenge. 

WiLLiAH AUHCTOM Eao. PI- II. Pm. i. 

16. ELFRED RE Similar bust. 

CIOLYYLF MONETA Similar type with an ornament 
attached to each side of the lozenge. 

Bkitiib UutBVH. PL II, Pio. •• 

17. . . . DREX SAX Similar bust. 

EflLEM ... ETA Similar type, with a cross attached 

to one side of the lozenge. 

Bkitkh Mmnii. PI. II, Pio- '• 

18.... ED REX SAX Similar bust. 

. . . LF MONETA Similar type, with a cross attach- 

ed to e!l(ch side of the lozenge. 

Britiih Mvtnm. Pl.'.H. Pi». »• 

19. /ELFRED REX SI Similar bust. 

LIAFYALD MONE Similar type, with a pellet on each 

side of the lozenge externally, and in each angle internally. 

Rbv J. W. Uaktii. pi. 11, Pio. »• 

20. + ELFRED REX SAX Similar bust. 


REGINGIED MONET A. This differs from the last in hav- 
ing crosses instead of pellets on each side of the lozenge. 

J. D. Cuff Esq. PL 11, Fio. 10. 

21. X AELFRED REX Similar bust. 

+ DIARMVND Similar type, a cross within the 

lozenge, and a crescent attached to each side of the beaded lines 
which connect the lozenge with the margin. 

BaiTiSH HuBEUic. Fl. II, Pio. 11. 

22. X AELFRED REX Similar bust. 

+ BVRGNOfl Similar type; a pellet at each 

side of the lozenge, another in each angle of the cross enclosed 
therein, and a curved line connecting each opposite pair of 

J. Kemyom Esq. Pi. II, Fig. 12. 

23. + ELFRED REX Similar bust. 

+ TIRVVALD Similar type ; a bar across each 

side of the lozenge ; a plain marginal line within the usual bead- 
ed margin ; two of the lines connecting the lozenge with the mar- 
gin indented, two plain. 

William Asshktoh Esq. , ' PI. II, Fio. 13. 

The date of execution of these coins is ascertained by their 
resemblance to the more common type of those of Ceolwulf II, 
king of Mercia, A. D. 874. The busts differ on all, but some, 
especially 13 and 15, are close imitations of those on the coins of 
the Roman emperors, and the diadem on all is clearly of Roman 
origin. There is a marked difference in workmanship between 
those which read REX SAXGNUM and those which read simply 
REX. The former were probably minted in Alfred's paternal 
dominions of Wessex. 

The following are all the names of moneyers which occur on 
coins of this type : 





Before I proceed to notice the coins of Alfred which come 
next in succession, I must draw the attention of my readers to 
two coins which are not indeed English, but are the evidence of 
the former existence of English coins of the same type, and hold 
out to us the expectation of such being discovered at some future 
time. In my Essay on the coins of East Anglia, I have noticed 



coins of two princes, Ethelred and Oswald, on which we are 
presented with a type originally French, but adopted by them, 
the front or portico of a type, and here we have two other coins 
of the same type which are evidently blundered imitations of the 
coins of English Kings. 

AELRF . . . REX Front of a temple. 

+ QVENTOVVICI A cross with a pellet in each angle. 

I Same types. 

British MosstrM. Pl. VII, Fia. 1 and 2. 

This place Quentowic is already notorious for blundered imi- 
tations of the coins of Cnut or Canute struck in England at 
Ebraice and Cunnetti, (for all the coins with the name of this mint 
found at Cuerdale and elsewhere, were clearly blundered; not 
one of them presenting anything like a correct legend on their 
obverse;) and here we have from the same place two other 
blundered imitations of coins of Alfred and of Ethelstan : for I 
think there can be no doubt that the obverse legends of these 
coins are intended for AELFRED REX, and EDELSTAN REX, respec- 
tively. It would appear probable, that the Northmen, when they 
went to France, carried with them English money, and during 
their occupation of Quentowic, employed ignorant moneyers to 
strike coins in imitation of them. It is to be observed that in 
genuine French coins of this type, the legend on the temple face 
of the coins is always XPISTIANA RELIGIO, or the name of the 
place of mintage. Only on these blundered coins, and on those 
undoubtedly English coins above referred to, do we find that type 
used as an obverse accompanying the name and title of the king. 
I consider it, then, extremely probable that future discoveries of 
coins, lost or concealed about the year 880, may make known to 
us genuine pieces of this type, both of Alfred and of Ethelstan, 
and for this reason I give these two pieces a place in the accom- 
panying plates of Alfred's coins. 

Mr Assheton's beautiful and unique penny of Ceolwulf II of 
Mercia, figured in Mr Hawkins's account of the Cuerdale coins, 
leads me to place next in succession the following coin, and then 
the London coins, between which and the penny of Ceolwulf it is, 
as it were, a connecting link. 

24. DENI IJA XRX + Victory hovering over two emperors 


seated, a device copied from the coins of Valentinian and others 
of the lower empire. 

LONDONIA in monogram. 

AKoajBw Mooas Esa. M. D. Pl. VII, Fio. 3. 

I do not myself consider this to be a coin of Alfred. On the 
contrary I prefer reading the obverse legend ALF DENE XRX +, 
which is precisely the reading on the obverse of a half-penny 
found with this at Cuerdale, and assigning it to Halfdene I, whose 
dominions were properly Northumbria, but who, in common with 
the other sea-kings, ravaged the whole island. Whether, how- 
ever, it be considered to be of Alfred or of Alfdene, it answers 
the same end, of serving as a connecting link between the coin 
of Ceolwulf and those which follow, of London. Of these, up- 
wards of fifty specimens are now known, the principal varieties 
of which will be found in Plate III. All have on the obverse the 
bust of the king, generally turned to the right, but in three 
instances to the left, and on the reverse the monogram of 


J. D. CxTFir Esa. 

PL. HI, Fio. 1. 



J. Ken YON Esq. 

PL. III. Pio. 2. 



PL. Ill, Pig. S. 




- - 4. 

It is not improbable that this coin may have been minted by 
the authority of Ethelred, the brother of Alfred, who appointed 
him to the government of London. The obverse legend is more 
like his name than that of Alfred : still it is but a blundered 




Ibid. — — 5. 



Ibid. — — 6 



Ibid. — — 7. 



Ibid. — — 8. 



Ah DEE w MooEB. Esq. M. D. — — 9. 



Rev. T. P. Dtm ocK. PI. VII, - 4. 



William Assretom Esq. PI. Ill, — 10. 



J. A. WiQAK Esq - - 11. 

JoHK Bbithill Era. PI. VII — i 
William AuBBnii Eut. PI. Ill — It. 
Britiih MniEUM. — — IS. 




39. AELF 

40. CIV REI 

W. H. Shsp^aed Et«. — — 14. 

The last five are half-pennies, all that are known of this class 
of Alfred's coins, and the earliest specimens that have occurred in 
the English series of this denomination of money. Nos. 36 and 37 
were found at different times amongst gravel dredged from the 
bed of the Thames, 38 and 39 in the Cuerdale hoard, and 40 was 
for many years prior to that discovery in Mr Sheppard's collection. 

The two following, although they do not bear the name of 
Alfred, or of any other king, are of the same class and date as the 

41. EROT BOLT Bust to the right, of very different 
form from that on any of Alfred's coins. 

LONDONIA in monogram. 

B&ITHH MUttUM. PI. y, FlO. 1. 

42. HERIBERT Bust to the right, bearded. 
LINCOLNIA In monogram. 

J. Kemtov Eiq. pi. Y, Fio. S. 

I know not how to explain the legend on 41 ; it is proba- 
bly the name of a moneyer blundered. There is a coin, in the 
British Museum, similar to 42, but with a beardless bust and a 
blundered legend EREENER on the obverse : (Ruding, PL 15, 
Fig. 9). These are the earliest coins known from the mint of 
Lincoln. The date of the London coins I am inclined to fix 
almost immediately after the rebuilding of that city by Alfred in 
881. It had been destroyed by the Danes nine years previously. 
There is another class of these coins much rarer than the above, 
which present the moneyer's name on their reverses. 

43. ALFRED REX Bust to the right 
TILEVINE MONETA. The usual monogram. 

Rbt. J. W. Maetin. pi. IV, Pio. 3. 

44. iCLFRED REX Similar bust 
HEAEVVLF The usual monogram, 

Bkitxsh Muisum. pi. IV, Fio. i. 

45. ALFRED RE Similar bust. 
HEREVVLF The visual monogram. 

J. KixToii Eta. PI. IV, Pio. 8. 


46, ALFRED RE Similar bust 

VINVR DVL Both the monogram and the moneyer's 
name on this piece appear to be blundered. 

This type presents the names of the following moneyers : 


47. iCLFRED REX Bust to the right. 

^-BELVF MO. The monogram on this coin is certainly 
not of London, though, like the Lincoln monogram, formed on 
the same model. I cannot discern in it the name of any place of 
importance in Alfred's time ; the most natural way of reading it 
seeming to be ROISENG, which may possibly indicate a mint at 
Rishangles in Sussex, anciently Ris-angra. It is a coin of very 
superior design to any of the London coins. Three specimens of 
it were found at Cuerdale, and are in the possession, respectively, 
of Mr Assheton, Dr Smith, and the British Museum. The pre- 
sent drawing was made from the two former, one coin supplying 
the defects of the other. 

PL. IV, Fio. 6. 

Before I proceed to the coins which are clearly the next in suc- 
cession to the above, I must not omit to notice a singular coin 
which is figured in Hall's plates. 

By the combination of the bust on the obverse, of a design 
similar to that of the London coins, with a reverse type peculiar 
to the coins of Edward the Elder, and the name of a moneyer 
which does not occur on any of those of Alfred, I was at one 
time induced to condemn the original of this engraving as a for- 
. gery. The discovery however of many of the originals of the 
figures in Hall's Plates, previously supposed fictitious, in the Duke 
of Devonshire's collection, taught me to hesitate in pronouncing 
decisions of this kind. The re- appearance too on a coin of Ed- 
mimd from that collection, now in the British Museum, of a type 
previously supposed peculiar to the coins of Edward the Elder, 
and as far as we know disused during the reign of Athelstan, 
(the type of the flower), has shaken my suspicions of the genu- 
ineness of the coin now under discussion, which had arisen from 
the apparent inconsistency in the dates of its obverse and reverse 

We now come to consider the coins of Alfred, without portraits, 
which appear of later date than any of those above described, and 


again we have a connecting link between the two classes in the 
following curious and unique piece. 

48. + EL ER ED RE A small cross ; no inner circle. 


49. EL ER ED RE A small cross. 

Lllll COLLA in two lines, between them three 


British Museum. Pl. IV, Fio. 9. 

On the Lincoln coin (42) we had the name of the mint in 
monogram, and that of the moneyer written at full length. On 
this, the order is reversed, the name of the mint is written at 
length, and that of the moneyer in monograms, for I read them 
HE RE BE the greater part of the name HEREBERT. 

50 + ELFREDRE A small cross. 
A large cross occupying the field of the coin with the letters 
CNVT attached to its extremities, and those of the word REX inter- 
calated between them. 

Beitibh HuBEUif . Pl. IV, Fxo. 10. 

By the type of its reverse this piece is connected with that nume- 
rous class of the Cuerdale coins which I have elsewhere ascribed 
to one of the sea-kings who invaded England in the days of Alfred ; 
(not, as Mr Hawkins seems to think, to that Cnut who was so 
famous in English history more than a century later ;) Cnut was 
a name exceedingly common amongst the Danish princes, and 
there certainly was one of this name, contemporary with Alfred, 
a son of Ragnor Lodbrog and a sea-king. It is no fanciful or 
anagrammatic way of reading which I propose, but one by no 
means uncommon in Byzantine coins of the same period. It is 
simply taking the letters in the order in which the cross is formed 
CNVT. This reading has the unanimous sanction of the most 
eminent Continental niunismatists, and I believe is now generally 
admitted by our own. In fact, no other has been or can be pro- 
posed, which has even the slightest probability to recommend it. 
This coin is not the least important link in the chain of proof 
that the lately discovered coins of Siefred or Sievert, and of this 
Cnut, are English. 

51. + EL FR ED RE A small cross. 
VVINEMON An ornament 

Beitish Museum: Pl. IV, Fio. 11. 


52. + EL FR ED RE A small cross. 

CVflVYLF In two lines. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 1. 

53. + EL FR ED RE Same type, the letters unusually 

VVINIG MONE In two lines as before. [smalL 

Bkitibh Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 2. 

54. +ELFREDRE\ „ , ,u f - 

ELDAMEFEC l ^^^^ types as the foregoing. 

Bkitibh Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 3. 

55. + EL FRED RE \ «„_ , ,, » 
FfiFISR nPinA f Jsame types as the foregoing. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 4. 

This type seems to call for particular remark. Although in 
common with the rest it has the name and title of Alfred on the 
obverse, yet it has on its reverse a legend which seems to give us 
the name and title of Ethelstan followed by the name of a mint 
GELDA. This may be Geldestone in Norfolk, or it may be read 
EDELS tani Regis GELDA i. e. " tribute or money of king Ethelstan.** 
1 leave these conjectures to the reader's judgement, myself pre- 
ferring the former as being most in analogy with other contem- 
porary coins. 

56. + EL FR ED RE A small cross with a pellet in each 
CVDBERHT In two lines. [angle. 

Beitish Museum. Pl. V, Fxo. 0. 

^^ ^EADVVALD I ^^^me types as the last 

Beitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 6. 

TIRVALDMQ i ^^^^ types as the foregoing. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 7. 

59. AEL FRE DREX A small cross. 

BYRNELM + In two lines. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fxo. 8. 

60. + ^L FRE DRE A small cross. 

The reverse legend of this coin is in characters which have 
hitherto eluded all attempts to explain them. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 9. 

61. + ^LFREDEE A small cross. 

EAYYALD In two lines. 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. V, Fio. 10. 

62. +ELFRDRE \ „ , ,, , , 

Bbitish Museum. Pl. Y, Fio. II. 

On this type we have the following names of moneyers : 


































































































Some of the above readings are blundered, and there are others 
even more so. Some of these moneyers add to their names their 
designation MO. MON. MONE. MONET, or MONETA, and two, ELDA 
and SIMVN the words ME FECit. 

The most remarkable feature on the coins 51 to 58 and indeed 
on 48 to 50 is the division of the obverse legend into four groups 
so as to give to the type a cruciform appearance. This is a 
feature so peculiarly English, being found only on these coins of 
Alfred, and on those of his contemporary Ethelstan (Guthrum) 
of East-Anglia, that its appearance on the money of Siefred, is 
another strong argument for their English origin. There is 
nothing of the kind to be observed on any continental coins ; one 
of the emperor Otto III struck at Verona, about the close of the 
century, which at first sight might be taken to resemble these, is 
really of a very different design : it must in fact be read as the 
cross is formed, VE. RO NA and the letters are so placed that they 


can be read at one view without turning the piece, just as in No. 
60. Nos 59, 60 present a variation from this, dividing the obverse 
legend into three groups instead of four. This coinage, which 
from its resemblance to that of Ethelstan (Guthnun) of East- 
Anglia, I feel justified in supposing, commenced between A. D. 
880 and 890, must have been continued imtil the end of the reign 
of Alfred. We do not indeed observe the peculiarity just noticed 
on the coins of Alfred's son and successor : for the greater length 
of the name Eadweard would not admit of such an arrangement : 
but some coins of this, ex. gr. No. 59, in every other respect cor- 
respond exactly with those of Edward the Elder. 

As the work of which these pages form a part is devoted to 
the illustration of the life and writings of Alfred, this seems a proper 
place for introducing a few remarks supplementary to what I 
have advanced in my Essay on the coins of East-Anglia, and the 
result of subsequent research. I there endeavoiu-ed to shew the 
probability that Ethelstan, known in histor}' as the eldest son of 
Ethelwulf, and king of Kent, was also a king of East-Anglia and 
a predecesser of S. Edmund. I was not then aware how intimate 
a connexion existed between this Ethelstan and his youngest 
brother Alfred, supposing as I then did that he died when Alfred 
was but two or three years old. Now however, I am convinced, 
and that chiefly by Dr Whitaker's argimients in his life of S. Neot, 
that S. Neot, who exercised so remarkable an influence over 
Alfred, was no other than this Ethelstan under a religious name. 

In the year 823, Egbert King of Wessex sent his son Ethelwulf 
with an army into Kent, and the latter subdued and wrested from 
the Mercian yoke, not only that kingdom but those of Essex, Sur- 
rey and Sussex as well. These kingdoms then became and for 
many years continued to be an appanage of the West-Saxon 
crown. They were bestowed at first upon Ethelwulf, who upon 
the death of Egbert and his own accession to the throne of Wes- 
sex in 837, bestowed them upon Ethelstan his eldest son, by some 
supposed to have been of illegitimate birth, by others the fruit of 
an earlier marriage than that which produced the four brothers, 
Ethelbald, Ethelbert, Ethelred, and Alfred. Ethelstan continued 
to govern these kingdoms until the year 851, when he is mention- 
ed as having defeated the Danes at Sandwich. But after that 
year he appears no more in history, and that about that time he 
ceased to govern Kent, seems probable from the fact that two 


years later, A. D. 853, Duke Ealhere, who had been his colleague 
at the battle of Sandwich,* is mentioned as fighting another battle 
but without him. Further, in the year 855, we find Ethelbald, 
his brother, the eldest son of the second marriage, styled king, 
and that whilst Ethelwulf was living ; and his dominions would 
seem to be the same as those which Ethelstan had governed, viz. 
Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex. In that year, Ethelwulf being 
then at Rome, King Ethelbald conspired with Alhstan, Bishop of 
Sherborne, and Eanwulf Earl of Somersetshire, to deprive his 
father of his dominions, and on his return they actually attempted 
to drive him from his kingdom. A compromise was made where- 
by Ethelbald was raised to the West-Saxon throne, and Kent 
with the other three provinces were left to his father Ethelwulf, 
who in the following year, A. D. 856, signs himself simply king of 
Kent, in a grant by himself of the Lordship of Lenham, to that 
Duke Ealhere who has already been mentioned in connection 
with Ethelstan. It appears, further, that about the year 851, 
Ethelwulf was a great benefactor to the monastery of Glastonbury, 
conveying thereto several manors, and that with his consent Earl 
Ethelstan gave other lands to the same monastery, together with 
his own person. 

The life of St Neot, by John of Tynemouth, tells us that he 
was a son of Edulph, king of the West-Angles and of Kent, that 
he retired from the world and became a monk at Glastonbury : 
that some years afterwards with only one attendant he retired to 
a solitude in Cornwall ; that after seven years spent there he went 
to Rome, and on his return gathered together a Society of monks 
and became their superior : that at this time he was frequently 
visited by Alfred for the purpose of obtaining his coimsel and 
blessing: that before his death, which must have taken place 
about the year 876 he foretold the troubles that were coming on 
Alfred : that after his death he appeared to Alfred on two occa- 
sions, once in his retreat in Athelney to annoimce the end of his 
troubles, and again before the battle of Ethandune to encourage 
him with the promise of victory. 

Besides this life there are two others, both said to have been 
written by William Ramsay a monk of Croyland, (though for my 
part I cannot believe them to be by the same hand), one in verse 
the other in prose. The former speaks of St Neot as the son of 
Edulph king of Kent, and of his being of the same blood as king 


Alfred (called iElvred), the latter that he was bom of a royal race 
which reigned in the eastern parts of Britain, and that he was a 
near relation of Alfred (called Helored). Lastly, the pictured 
life of St Neot in the windows of his church in Cornwall, express- 
ly tells us that he was a king, and that he resigned his crown to 
his younger brother. 

This much then is common to Ethelstan and to St Neot ; each 
was a son of Ethelwulf king of Kent, and brother of Alfred, and 
each was a king succeeded by a younger brother. But Ethelstan 
disappears from the page of history in 851, and about that time 
St Neot appears for nineteen or twenty years later : at the begin- 
ning of the reign of Alfred he was abbot of a monastery in Corn- 
wall, and the various changes which had chequered his career 
since his retirement from the world, his noviciate at Glastonbury, 
his successive ordinations, his monastic life, his seven years' soli- 
tude in Cornwall, his journey to and return from Rome, and his 
establishment of his monastery, would well fill up that space of 
time. Glastonbury was the monastery to which St Neot retired, 
and to Glastonbury about the year 851 we find Ethelstan giving 
lands together with his own person. All this to me is conclusive 
that Ethelstan and St Neot were one and the same person : that 
Ethelstan when he left the world took another name veayrb^ i. e. 
" the renewed one," indicative of his purpose of walking in new- 
ness of life, and that by this name he was ever after known. Ad- 
mitting this identity, we see the reason why, when Guthrum 
embraced the Christian faith, Alfred his godfather chose for him 
the name of Ethelstan (whilst he allotted to him as his kingdom 
one of the ancient dominions of Ethelstan) for it was that of one 
very dear to him, and lately deceased, the last survivor of his 
four brothers, who had been to him more than a brother, a spiri- 
tual father whilst living, and after his departure to receive the 
heavenly crown for which be laid aside his earthly one, a protect- 
ing saint. The name he gave to Guthrum, as well as the domin- 
ions he assigned him were those which his brother Ethelstan had 
given up for the love of God. Ethelstan, then, bom probably at 
the commencement of the ninth century (for he is said to have 
been an old man when he retired into Comwall, which could 
scarcely have been later than 863), succeeded his father Ethelwulf 
in the kingdom of Kent in 837 ; yet reigned also in East-Anglia 
before that time, and even as early as the days of Beomwulf and 


Ludica, Kings of Mercia, and continued to reign until nearly the 
days of St Edmund, A. D. 855 (for the series of his coins extends 
over the whole of that period, about a quarter of a century) ; re- 
signed his crown to his younger brother Ethelbald, and abandoned 
the world : became a monk at Glastonbury imder the name Neo- 
tus : retired thence to a solitude in Cornwall ; after leading the 
life of a hermit there for seven years went to Rome and returned 
to establish a monastery in the same place : then became the coun- 
sellor of his youngest brother Alfred, and departed to a better 
life shortly before Alfred's troubles. Yet immediately afterwards, 
another was raised up in one of the kingdoms which nearly thirty 
years before had owned his sway, to perpetuate his name, Guth- 
rum, the noblest of the pagan sea-kings changed by divine grace 
into Ethelstan the Christian king, the god-son of Alfred. 

Returning from this digression for which I hope the interesting 
nature of the subject will be admitted as an excuse, I come now 
to conclude my notice of the coins of Alfred by discussing a few 
pieces which undoubtedly belong to the last ten years of his reign, 
and must have been issued contemporaneously with some of those 
last described. 

63. + ELFRED REXPLECN. A small cross. 

EflALVVLMO In two lines. 

British Mvbsuii. Pl. VII, Fio. 6. 

64. AELFRED REX DORO. A small cross. 

BVRNYALO MO In two lines. 

BaiTiiH MvsiVM. Pl. Y, Fio. IS. 

65. + AELFRED REX DO A cross. 

+ SCEADMYNRE The letter A. 



Britibb Mubxum. Pl. YII, Fi». 7. 

Same types as the last 

British Mviecm. Pl. VII, Fio. 8. 

spaces in the legend filled by amulets). 

British Museum. Pl. VII, Fio. 9. 

The date of issue of all the above seems to be clearly fixed. 
On 63 we have, in addition to the name and title of Alfred, the 
first letters of the name of Plegmund, who became archbishop of 
Canterbury, A. D. 890. On 64, representing a large class of Al- 


fred's coins, and on 65, we have the first letters of the name Doro- 
vernia, shewing that they were minted at Canterbury, and connect- 
ing them also with one type of the money of archbishop Plegmimd. 
This last, 65, and the two varieties which follow, 66 and 67, toge- 
ther form a connecting Unk between the coins of Alfred and those 
which bear the name of St Edmimd, martyred king of East-Anglia. 
These have generally been supposed to be of ecclesiastical origin 
and to have been minted in the monastery foimded in honour of 
St Edmund at Bury. My opinion, foimded on a careful conside- 
ration of the evidence of the coins themselves, and the circum- 
stances of the two principal discoveries of them, is that they were 
neither ecclesiastical nor wholly confined to East-Anglia, but that 
they were simultaneously minted, chiefly in that but in other 
parts of England as well, in honour of S. Edmund, after the death 
of Ethelstan (Guthrum) and before the close of the ninth century. 
The first of the three here given, connects them with Alfred, and 
with Canterbury, and it is not unreasonable to suppose that it was 
at his suggestion, and by his authority, that this coinage was 

On these Canterbury coins and on others, which, though blun- 
dered, appear to be of the same class, we have the following 
names of moneyers : 





There is a peculiarity to be observed on the coins which follow, 
viz. that they have their legends both in obverse and reverse dis- 
posed in lines, two, three, or four. With the exception of the 
coins of earl Sitric, all other coins of the Enghsh series, on which 
the obverse presents a linear legend, have a circular one on the 

68. /ELFRED+ORSNA FORDA In three Unes. 
BERNVALRMO. In two Imes. 

J. KxvTox Eso. Pl. VI, Fio. 1. 

69. ELFRED ORSNA FORDA In three Unes as before. 
BERNVALDNO In two lines^ having between 

them a cross raised on steps. 


BftXTiftH Mvssuic. Pl. VI, Fio. 2. 


70. ELFRED ORSNY FORDA In three lines as before. 
BERNVALDIO In two lines. 

W. AstBSTOir Eso. Pl. TI, Fio. 8. 

The name of the city of Oxford on these coins is usually read 
Orsnc^ord; Mr Sainthill has suggested that it should be read 
Oksnc^orda, and I believe he is right. 

71. This coin has a blxmdered legend both on the obverse and 
the reverse, but the former seems to be intended for ALFRED 
BERNVALDMQ and the latter is evidently intended for QRSNAFQRD A. 
It is, then, a distinct variety of the preceding coins, having the 
moneyer's name along with that of the king on the obverse and 
that of the mint on the reverse. 

B&XTXtB MutsvM . Pl. TI, Fia. 4. 

72. On this piece we can just make out the name of Alfred on 
the obverse, but the rest of the legend is so much blundered as to 
defy explanation. It is certainly not an Oxford coin, but may 
take its place here, as holding out to us the expectation of futiu-e 
discoveries of coins from other mints similar to those of Oxford. 
It will be observed that a part of the obverse legend is common to 
that of the reverse. 

73. EVE RAT. In two lines : between them a cross on a 
a single step. 

ME FECIT. In two lines. 

J. KxvTOv Eao. Pl. VI, Fio. 6. 

This beautiful half-penny, together with the Oxford penny, 69, 
and the halfpenny, 72, are connected by their type with some of 
those of Siefred, discovered along with them at Cuerdale. 

74. + AELFRED REX SAXONVM. In four lines. 

ELI MO— In two lines. 

— Oablavo Esq. Pl. VI, Fio. 7. 

The weight of this piece is 164| grains. If it were intended 
for a coin, it must be supposed to be a quarter of the mancus. 
The mancus of silver should weigh 675 grains, and its quarter 
168f grains. 

75. +AELFRED REX SAXONVM. In four lines. 



J. Kentos Esq. Pl. VI, Fio. 8. 

Beitisb Mvsjcvm. Pl. VI, Fio. 9. 


77. A fragment of a similar coin. 

B«iTXtH Mufivx. Pl. VI, Fio. 10. 

The title on these coins Rex^Saxonum occurring in connection 
with the names of the mints of Exeter, 75, and Winchester, 76 
and 77, seems to confirm my conjecture that the coins which 
also present this title in PL II are of West-Saxon origin. In con- 
nexion with these I give two similar coins of Alfred's son and suc- 
cessor Edward minted at Bath. 

Pl. VI, Figft. II, 12. THS vo«MK« iv thk Bbitxih Mumvm, the lattsb xm MACujTjr'i collxctxov. 






That the poems, of which king Alfred is known to have been the 
writer, are in themselves a better illustration of Anglo-Saxon 
poetry in general, than any laboured essay on the subject, has 
been already observed by the author of this version, in the short 
preface to the separate edition of the work.* 

But as these essays are professedly a regular series, having for 
their object to illustrate the Manners, Literature &c. of the ninth 
century, it seems desirable — if only as a matter of mere form — not 
to let this version, with its running commentary, appear a second 
time before the public without a few words on the poetry and 
general poetic character of our ancestors. 

It is a great draw-back to our appreciation of early poetry, that 
the help of rhythm and music can no longer be obtained. These 
are the most frail and fleeting of all the graces that wait upon the 
Fine Arts. It would seem, too, as if the very physical character of 
musical instruments were as transitory as the music itself. It 
appears, by the result of historical research, that the instnunents 
used in different ages vary so considerably, that even those which 
pass xmder the same name, have never borne exactly the same 
lorm, and often not even the same adaptation to the u^ses of the 

A very large, and in many cases, a very heterogeneous assort- 
ment of instnunents, are all included under the name of harp : 
and, though this instrument, as far as we know, was the only one 
generally used by the Saxons, yet we have little or no clue to a 
knowle^e of its shape, size, or principle of construction. This is 
the more to be lamented, because almost every fragment that 
remains of Anglo-Saxon poetry bears evident marks of having been 
written to be simg to the harp. 

Thus, then, we have no external aid to guide us to the metrical 
principles of the ancient Anglo-Saxon Poems, and are, therefore, 
driven by necessity to an examination of those now existing, as the 
only source from which we can derive a scanty information on 
this subject. 

The eminent historian of the Anglo-Saxons, Mr Tiuner, has, 

* King Alfred's Poems, now first turned into English metres, by M. F. Tupper esq. London, 
12mo, A. Hall, Virtue and Co. 1850. 


with his usual diligence, discovered a passage in the works of 
venerable Bede, which aids us wonderfully in this enquiry. 

In defining rhythm, Bede says, " It is a modulated composition of words, not 
according to the laws of metre, bat adapted in the number of its syllables to the 
judgment of the ear, as are the verses of our vulgar [or native] poets. Ehythm 
may exist without metre, but there cannot be metre without rhythm, which is 
thus more clearly defined. 

Metre is an artificial rule with modulation ; rhy thmus is the modulation with- 
out the rule. Yet, for the most part, you may find, by a sort of chance, some 
rule in rhythm ; but this is not from an artificial government of the syllables. 
It arises because the sound and the modulation lead to it. The vulgar poets 
effect this rustically ; the skilful obtain it by their skill. Thus that celebrated 
hymn is very beautifully made like iambic metre : 

Rex eterne ! Domine ! 
Rerum creator omnium ! 
Qui eras ante secula ! 

Such are other Ambrosian poems, and those not a few. So they sing the 
hymn on the day of judgment, made alphabetically, in the form of the trochaic 

Apparebit repentina 
Dies magna Domini, 
Fur obscura velut nocte, 
Improvisos occupans. 

Thus, then, it appears that the Anglo-Saxon poetry is not based 
upon a rigid metrical system of quantity like that of the Ancient 
Greeks and Romans, or upon the almost equally rigid system of 
accent, like that of the modern European nations ; but is adapted 
in the number oj its syllables to the judgment oj the ear. Let us 
then see what peculiarities an investigation of the existing Anglo- 
Saxon poems will fiunish us with. 

1. They consist entirely of short lines, containing not always 
the same munber of syllables, but nearly the same munber, accord- 
ing to the judgment oj the ear. 

2. A second peculiarity is the almost total omission of particles. 
This Mr Turner considers to be a peculiarity of all rude nations. 
It may however be no more than an instance of the usual tendency 
of poetry to omit all such small words as impede the expression of 
poetic thought, or are unnecessary to the greatness of the poetic 

In instance of these two peculiarities may be adduced the 
opening lines of King Alfred's poems, which rendered literally run 

Thus Alfred [to] us [The] king of [the] West Saxons 

Old spells told. Displayed [his] craft. 


And again the first lines of Metre I : 

It was years ago Oat of Scythia 

That [the] eastern Goths [Tiieir] shield men led. 

3. The third feature of Anglo-Saxon verse — ^for we must 
enumerate them very briefly — is their periphrastic nature, obser- 
vable in almost every portion that remains. Take for example 
that beautiful description of the exile of Oslac in the Saxon 
Chronicle, A. D. 973 : 

And then was eke driven out. Hoary-headed hero. 

Beloved hero, Wise and word-skiUed, 

Oslac from this land, Over the water's throng, 

Over rolling waters Over the whale's domain. 

Over the ganet's bath ; Of home bereaved. 

. All these lines express no more than the first and third alone 
express, and yet how beautifully are they varied — they remind us 
of Hebrew poetry. 

4. The same specimen displays to us the fourth peculiarity of 
Anglo-Saxon poetry, metaphor. It will be remarked that the sea 
is therein described not only as the * rolling waters/ but as the 
^ganet's bath' — the 'whale's domain.' 

5. Inversion of words. This peculiarity is derived from the 
strong likeness which the Anglo-Saxon bears to all the Teutonic 
dialects, including the modem German. It is observable in almost 
every piece of Saxon verse that has come down to us, remarkably 
so in the ballad of king Edgar [Sax. Chron. A. 973]. 

Here was Edgar, Akemanscester : 

Baler of An^es, But it the islanders, 

In {uU assembly Beoms, by another word. 

Hallowed king. Name Bath. 
At the old city 

Another example of the same style is found in a short poem, 
given, also, in the Saxon Chronicle, about the murder of king 
Edward called the Martyr (979) : 

The earthly murderers And on earth wide spread. 

Would his memory They who would not erewhile 

On earth blot out ; To his living body bow down. 

But the lofty Avenger They now humbly 

Hath his memory On knees bend 

In the heavens To his dead bones. 

6. The last and most interesting feature of our ancestral poetry 
was its alliteration, — a sort of rhyme — not that rhyme which, re- 
curring regularly at the ends of the lines, leads the reader to 
expect its recurrence, and, whether rightly or wrongly, is now 


looked upon as one of the ornaments which all poetry, m modern 
tongue, requires, but a rhyme, irregularly recurring, at very un- 
certain intervals, and as often at the beginnings as at the ends of 
the verses, nay even sometimes limited to a single letter, generally 
an aspirate or sibilant, occurring at the beginning of two following 
words. Of this peculiarity, very numerous instances will be 
found in the following version of king Alfred's poems, to which 
the readei^s ^tention is now invited. 

J. A. a 


The '* Poems of king Alfred " are here for the first time given 
to the English reader in a rh3rthmical dress : and that, without 
any known or meant sacrifice of faithfulness, any ill-judged 
attempt at " improvements" or additions, any other wish than the 
simple one of making Alfred's mind known to us his distant child- 
ren, as much as possible in his own words. The writer has aimed 
everywhere at these five points : 1. To be hteral, 2. To keep 
the still used words of our ancient Anglo-Saxon tongue wherever 
he could, and to throw aside all Latinized and other mixed forms 
of expression. 3. To vary the metres at least as often as Boe- 
thius, never admitting a false or doubtful rhyme. 4. To keep 
constantly in view the alliterations, the parallelisms, the frequently 
recurring echoes both in sense and in sound, which are principal 
features of the Anglo-Saxon poetry. 6. To catch the spirit, and 
not the notes alone, of Alfred's harp, and to be at once easy and 
exact, rhymed (often doubly and trebly) and yet, as a first rule, 
representing what Alfred really said, and not what a modem may 
put into his mouth for rhyme's sake. It will readily be believed, 
that, if these five rules have been at all regarded, the work here 
done has been one of no small difficulty : to use the neat phrase 



of Peter Bertius in his preface to Boethius, it may seem *' Exiguum 
mole mimus," but it is " ingens pondere." 

And now let the present writer give praise where it is due to 
those riper scholars in this ancient field of literature, whose 
laboiu^ have principally helped him. Mr Fox's prose version of 
the Metres of Boethius, as paraphrased by King Alfred, has been 
one mainstay in the matter; and Dr Bosworth's admirable 
dictionary another. At the same time, laborious study, a not in- 
frequent independence as to the rendering of certain passages, and an 
earnest obedience to the five good rules above, leave (it is hoped) 
some balance of accoimt to the writer's credit. Nothing is easier 
than to find fault; but in many cases nothing is more difficult 
than to propose a remedy. Let then the critical scholar, who 
may possibly see much to blame in this version, attempt the 
matter for himself ; and then he will estimate the difficulty of 
such conditions as these ; at once to avoid Latinisms, and to 
speak in modern flowing English, — to render Alfred faithfully, 
and yet to preserve rhjrme and rhythm in a multitude of metres. 

M. F. T. 

Cable 0f mUxAs. 


Thai JBlfnd oi Bald-ipell reahte 

I. Of Rome and Boethius. 

Hit waet gean in That Gotan eastan 

II. A Sorrowful Fytte. 

Carmln* qui quondam studio flo rente peregl 
HwKt ic liotha feU 

III. A Fytte of Despair. 

Heu quam pnedpiti mena profundo 
JEala on hu grimmum 

IV. A Psalm to God. 

O atelliferi conditor orUa 
iEala thu seippend 

V. Of Trouble and its Cure. 

Nttblbui atria 

Thu meaht be there tunnan 

VI. Of Change. 

Qoum polo Phcebua roieia quadri{^ 
Tha M wiadom elt 


VI I. Of Content, and Humbleness. 

QuiiquiB Tolet perennem 

Tha ongon m Witdom 

VIII. Of Primal Innocence &c. 

Felix nimium prior »tas 

Sonatwa se Wisdom 

IX. Nero. 

NoTimna qumtat dederit ruinas 
HwKt we ealle wium 

X. Of Fame, and Death. 

Quicunqne tolam xnente pnecipitl petit 
Oil na lueletha hwone 

XI. Of God's Wise Government. 

Quod mundut stabili fide 
An scippend is 

XII. Uses of Adversity. 

Qui serere ingenunm volet agrum 
Se the wille wyrcan 

XIII. Of Inward Likings. 

Qoantuin renun flectat habenas 
Ic wille mid giddnm 

XIV. The Emptiness of Wealth. 

Quamvis fluente dires auri gurgite 
Hwaet bith thaem welegaa 

XV. Nero's Baseness. 

Quamvis se Tyrio superbus ostro 
Theah hine na 

XVI. Of Self-rule. 

Qui se volet esse potentem 

Se the wille anwald agon 

XVII. True Greatness. 

Omne hominum genus in terris 
Thset eorthwaran 

XVIII. Of Sinful Pleasure. 

Habet omnis hoc voluptas, 
Eala thset se jfla 

XIX. Where to find true joys. 

Eheu I quam miseros tramite devio 
Eala thset is hefig dysig 

XX. Of God and His Creatures. 

O qui perpetua mundum rationegubemas, 
Eala min Drihten 1 thset thu eart 

XXI. Of inward light. 

Hue omnes pariter venite capti, 
Wei la monna beam 

XXII. Of the inner mind, and the outer sin. 

Quisquis profunda mente vestigat verum, 
Se the sfter rihte 

XXIII. True Happiness. 

Felix qui potuit boni 

Sie thset la on.eorthan 

XXIV. The Soul's Heritage. 

Sunt etenim pennse volucres mihi 
Ic hsebbe fithru 


XXV. Of Em Kings. 

QoM Tide* ledere mIso 
Oeher nn an ipeU 

XXVI. Of Circb and her company. 


le the mmg eatke 

XXVII. Op Tolerance. 

Qaid tantoe jurat ezeltare motua 
Hwy gc mtn scylen 

XXVIII. Of Heavenly Wonders. 

8i quia Aicturi aidera neacit 
Hwa ia on eorthaa mi 

XXIX. Of the Stars and Seasons. 

8i via ceisi Jura toaaiillB 

(HI thn Du wilirige 

XXX. Of the True Sun. 

Pan clamm himine PhcBbom 
Omema waes 

XXXI. Of Man's Uprightness. 

Quam variia terraa animalia pecmeaat llgwif 1 
Hwat thu meaht ongitan 

Proverbs^ or the Parliament at Shifford 


Thitt iElfred na Thy tea cUiife 

Eald-tpeUreahte; Utadrile 

Cyning Weat-aezna Selflicne aecf . 

Crmtt meldode. XlioBae he airelMi lyt 

Leoth-wyrhta list. d Gymth for hia gilpo. 15 

Him wasa Iiut mice], Ic aoeal giet aipMcao, 

Thst he tfaiouum leodara Pon on fitte, 

Leoth spellode, Fole-ciithne ned, 

Monnum myrgen, Haslethum 8acgeaB« 

Mialiceewidaa; 10 HliHe m the wiUa. St 

Thus to us did Alfred sing 

A spell of old ; 
Song-craft the West-Saxon kuig 

Did thus unfold : 

Long and much he long'd to teach 

His people then 
These mixt^sayings of sweet speech. 

The joys of men ; 

That no weariness forsooth. 

As well it may, — 
Drive away delight from truth. 

But make it stay. 


So^ he can but little seek 

For his own pride : 
A fytte of song I fitly speaks 

And nought beside : 

A folk-beknown and world-read thing 

I have to say ; 
To all the best of men I sing, — 

List, ye that may. 

A short metre, and one full of echoes, is that which is best 
fitted to the genius of Anglo-Saxon verse, so as to represent it 
fairly. The writer in the first instance vrrote another version of 
this opening rhyme ; but saw cause to reject it, as not being literal 
enough, and because for the metre's sake he was obliged to inter- 
polate two lines. The reason why it is here below inserted is, (not 
by way of proof of extraordinary pains-taking, for the same sort 
of labour has occurred in other portions of this version, but) be- 
cause it is considered by a learned friend as worthy of preservation. 
To the writer's mind, a sin against faithful rendering was fatal, 
and he prefers the more literal rhyme just already given to the 
reader. Here then is the rejected one : 

Alfred told to us 

A tale of olden time ; 
The King of the West-Saxons thus 

Shewed forth his skill in rhyme. 

For long he longed to teach 

His people pleasant things, 
In mingled changes of sweet speech. 

And many counsellings, — 

The dear delight of men ; 

/ Lest weariness forsooth 
Should drive away unfairly then 
The selfsame word of truth. 

He thereby little sought 
• For any selfish praise ; 

[But of these people only thought 
To give them good always.] 


I thus will speak and say 

What all the folk shall read ; 
List ye that may, and like my lay. 

Let all the good give heed. 

From the circumstance of the third person being used in these 
lines (a custom far from unusual with authors in every age and 
nation) some have supposed that Alfred did not write them. The 
truth seems to lie in the opposite opinion : not merely from the 
prevalent moral resemblance to Alfred's mind ; as in that shrewd 
hint of the evils of dullness, in the eschewal of vain glory, &c ; — 
but chiefly from the text itself. After disclaiming self praise, 
recommending rhymes, and announcing the author, Alfred comes 
simply to the first person, ' Ic sceal sprecan,' I shall speak : it 
may be more learned to doubt, but it is far more sensible to 

This Opening rhyme does not occur in the Latin : it is a bit of 
original Alfred. 

In this, as in others of these metres, there is a great satisfaction 
in seeing how easily they fall into modem rhymes, without a 
sacrifice of faithfulness. However, when (instructed by Dr 
Bosworth) we remember that of the 38,000 words of Modem 
English 23,000, or more than fths, are Anglo-Saxon, — ^this 
harmony will appear less wonderful. But, — what a pity it is that 
any of the fine old root-words of our tongue should have been 
forgotten : for example, in this very Opening song, how is it we 
have lost ' myreg ' — as good a word as * pleasure,' and the root of 
^ merry ' ? — and * gilpe,' vain-glory ? — and * spell ' (not quite yet 
obsolete) story ? — and ' list ' (surely as good a word as art) ? — 
* fitte ' a song — * leoth ' a poem, — and many more ? We have of 
late years been throwing away, by the hundred, the stout old 
props of oiu* strong north-country speech, and have substituted 
in their stead the sesquipedalia verba of Southern Europe. 
Nothing then can be more wholesome than to return for awhile 
to such good plain stuff as Alfred's stalwarth Anglo-Saxon : it is 
a right bracing air ; — may the reader enjoy the sport as much as 
the writer. We have here before us fresh fields and a fair brooklet 
of English running water. 



I. Of Rome and Boethius. 

Hit waes geara in. 

Thaette GoUn eaitan 

Of Sciththia 

Sceldas Isddon, 

Threate gethningoiif 5 

Theod-lond monlg. 

Setton Buthweardes, 

Sigfr-theoda twa ; 

Gotene rice 

Gear-mslum weoz ; 10 

Haefdan him gecynde 

Cyningas twegen, 

Rtedgod and Aleric, 

Rice gethungon. 

Tha waes ofer muntgiop 15 

Monig atyhted 

Gota gylpes full, 

Guthe gelysted, 


Fana hwearfode 20 

Scir on sceafte ; 

Sceotend thohton 


Ealle gegongan, 
■ ende, 



HigelacBtan ; 

Swua efhe from muntgiop, 

Oth thone maeran wearoth, 

Thaer SicilU 

8ae-8treamum, 30 

In egiond micel 

Ethel maersath. 

Tha waes Romans 

Rice gewunnen, 

Abrocen burga cyst. 35 

Beadu-rincum waes 

Rom gerymed ; 

Raedgot and Aleric 

Foron on thaet faesten, 

Fleah Casere 40 

Mid tham aethelingum 

Ut on Grecas. 

Ne meahte tha seo wea laf 

Wige forstandan, 

Gotan mid guthe ; 45 

Gio monna gestrion 

Seealdon unwillum 

Ethel weardas : 

Halige athas : 

Waes gehwaethena waa. 50 

Theah waes mago-rinca. 

Mod mid Grecum, 

Gif hi leod-fruman 

Laestan dorsten. 

Stod thrage on tham 55 

Theod waes gewunnen, 

Wintra maenigo ; 

Oth thaet wyrd geseraf , 

Thaet the Theodrioe, 

Thegnas and eorlas 60 

Heran sceoldan. 

Waes se Heretema, 

Criste gecnoden ; 

Cyning selfa onfeng 

Fulluht theawum. 65 

Faegnodon ealle 

Romwara beam. 

And him recene to 

Frithes wilnedon. 

He him faeste gehet, 70 

Thaet hy ea]d-rihu 

iElces mosten. 

Wyrthe gewunlgen, 

On thaere welegan byrig, 

Thenden God wuolde, 75 

Thaet he Godena geweald 

Agan moste. 

He thaet eall aleag. 

Waes thaem aethelinge 

Arrianea SO 

Gedwola leofre 

Thone Drihtnes m. 

Het lohannes, 

Godne Papan. 

Heafde beheawon : 85 

Naes thKt haerlic daed 

Eac tham waes unrim 

Othres manes, 

Thaet se Gota Aremede, 

Godra gehwilcum. 90 

Tha waes ricra sum, 

On Rome byrig, 

Ahefen Heretoga, / 

Hlaforde leof , 

Thenden Cynestole 95 

Creacas|wioIdon. > 

Thaet'waes rihtwis^inc. 

Waes mid Romwarum 

Sinc-geofa sella. 

Siththan longe he 100 

Waes for weorulde fwis, 

Weorth-myrtha geom, 

Beom boca gleaw, 


Se haele hatte : 105 

Se thonne hlisan gethah. 

Wacs'*him on gemynde, 

Maela gehwilce, 

Yfel and edwit, 

Thaet him eltheodge, 110 

Kyningas cythdon. 

Waes on'Greacas hold, 

Gemunde thaza aia» 

And eald-rihta.' 

Thehiseldran 115 

Mid him ahton longe, 

Lufan and lissa. 

Angan tha listum ymbe, 

Thencean thearflice, 

Hu he thider meahte. 120 

Orecas oncerran ; 

Thaet se Casere, 

Eft anwald ofer hi 

Agan moste. 

Sende aerend -gewrit 1 25 


Degelice : 

And hi for Drihtne baed, 

Ealdum treowum, 

Thaet hi aeft to him, 130 

Comen on tha ceastre ; 

Lete Greca witan 

Raedan Romwarum, 

Rihtes wyrthe. 

Lete thone leodseipe. 135 

Tha tha lare ongeat 

Theodric Amuling, 

And thone thegn oferfeng ; 

Heht faestlice, 

Folc-gesithas HO 

Healdon thone here-rine. 

Waes him hreoh sefa 

Ege from tham eorle ; 

He hine inne 

Heht on carceme H5 

Cluster belucan. 

Tha waes mod-seaa 

Miclum gedtefed ; 


Breac longe aer, 150 

Wlencea under wolcnum. 

He thy wyrs meahte 

Tholian tha thrage, 

Tha hio swa thearl beeom. 

Waes tha ormod eorl, 155 

Are ne wende, 

Ne on tham faestene, 

Frufre gemunde ; 


Ae be neowol utnaht Ne wende thonaa aefre 

NIther of dune ; 160 Cuman of thaem clkmmuin ; 

Feol on tha flore, Cleopode to Drihtne, 165 

FeU worda tprmc, Geomran ttemne, 

Fbrtlioht thearle : Oyddode thui. 

It was long of yore 

That the Gothic rout. 
Forth from Scythia's eastern shore. 

Led their shieldmen out ; 

Thronged with swarms of war 
The lands of many a clan. 

And in the South set firm and far 
Two tribes to trouble man. 

Yearly waxed and grew 

Those Gothic kingdoms twain. 
And Alaric and Raedgast too 

Right royally did reign. 

Then down the Alps the Goth 
Made haste to force his way. 

In haughty pride all fiercely wroth. 
And lusting for the fray : 

Their banner fluttered bright. 
While all Italia through 

Shot ruthless in their Unden might 
The shielded warrior crew. 

Forth from the Alpine drifts 
To great Sicilia's coast. 

Where in the seastream it uplifts 
Its lofty island boast. 

Then Rome's old rule was crush'd. 
Her costliness despoil'd. 

And by that host, with battle flushed. 
The city's beauty soil'd. 

Alaric and Raedgast 

The fastness first they seek. 
While Caesar with his chiefs fled fast 

For safety to the Greek. 


Then could the wretched band. 

Left mournfully behind. 
No more the warring Goth withstand. 

Nor much of mercy find. 

Unwillingly their trust 

^ The warders then gave up. 

None to his oath was true and just ; 

And full was sorrow's cup. 

Yet to the Greek outyeam'd 

The people, as at first. 
And for some daring leader bum'd. 

To follow whom they durst. 

The people wore their woes 
Many a wintry year, 
. Till weird-ordain'd Theodric rose. 

Whom thane and earl should hear. 

To Christ the chief was bom. 

And water wash*d the king. 
While all Rome's children blest the mom. 

That peace with it should bring. 

To Rome he vowed full fast 

Her old-time rights to yield. 
While God should grant his life to last. 

The Gothic power to wield. 

He did forswear all that : 

The Atheling he lied. 
To please Arius God f orgat. 

And falsely slipp'd aside. 

He broke his plighted oath. 

And, without right or ruth. 
Good John the pope against all troth 

Beheaded for the truth. 

A shameful deed was there ; 

And heaps of other ill 
Against the good this Goth did dare 

In wickedness of wilL 

Bmy. 22 


A man there was just set 
For heretoch in Rome, 

Loved by the lord whose bread he ate. 
And dear to all at home : 

Dear also to the Greek, 

When he the town did save ; 

A righteous man, whom all would seek. 
For many gifts he gave. 

Long since was he full wise. 
In worldly wit and lore. 

Eager in worth and wealth to rise. 
And skiird on books to pore. 

Boethius was he hight ; 

He ate shame's bitter bread. 
And ever kept the. scorn in sight 

Outlandish kings had said. 

He to the Greek was true. 

And oft the old-rights told. 

Which he and his forefathers too 
From those had won of old. 

Carefully then he plann'd 

To bring the Greek to Rome, 

That Caesar in his rightful land 
Again might reign at home. 

In hidden haste he phed 

With letters all the lords. 

And prayed them by the Lord who died 
To heed his earnest words. 

Greece should give laws to Rome, 
And Rome should Greece obey ; 

The people longed to let them come 
To drive the Goth away. 

But lo ! the Amuling 

Theodric found out all. 

And bade his fellows seize and bring 
This highborn chief in thrall. 


He feared that good earl well. 

And straightly bade them bind 
Boethius m the prison-cell. 

Sore troubled in his mind. 

Ah ! he had basked so long 

Beneath a smnmer sky, 
111 could he bear such load of wrong. 

So heavy did it lie. 

Then was he full of woe. 

Nor heeded honour more ; 
Reckless he flung himself below 

Upon the dungeon floor ; 

Much mourning, there he lay. 

Nor thought to break his chains. 
But to the Lord by night and day 

Sang thus in sighing strains. 

This poem also is Alfred^s own : and has not in any way been 
suggested by Boethius. It serves, in an able and effective manner, 
to introduce the Metres that follow, giving a slight historic sketch 
of Rome and its fortunes at the time of Boethius*s imprisonment. 
In Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall* all the matters here hinted at are 
detailed at length : as it is not our wish to encumber this version 
with needless notes, the reader can if he pleases there refer to 
the history of Theodoric's invasion and government. Meanwhile, 
a few words in this version require explanation : e. g. ' sceldas 
laeddon* 'led their shields/ — as we would now say of a general, he 
sent so many hundred ' bayonets' to the flank &c. : ' lind wigende* 
lime or linden-fighters, — so called from their bucklers or spear 
shafts having been made of lime-wood: 'hlaf is a 'loaf; 'ord* 
a ' beginning or cause' : hence ' hlaford' is a ' patron' or a 'lord 
whose bread he ate : " heretoga' is a ' general or chieftain' ; Boe- 
thius was in fact ' consul,' but, as in the case of ' atheling^ for 
* prince,' it is thought best to keep to the word of Alfred. So also 
of ' Amuling ;' which signifies the descendant of Amul. Boethius 
(praenamed Anicius Manlius Torquatus Severinus, and allied to 
those noble families) flourished as a Roman citizen and a Chris- 
tian writer toward the close of the fifth and the beginning of the 



sixth century of our era. He was educated in Greece, where he 
spent the first years of his life, and married a Sicilian lady of 
Greek extraction, by name Elpis : these serve to explain the fact 
of his Philhellenism referred to in the text. After having filled 
the highest office of state himself and having lived to see his sons 
Patricius and Hypatius Consuls also, he was sent to a prison in 
Pavia, for having stood up against the usurpations of Theodoric. 
He appears to have lived only six months in the prison, and then 
to have been cruelly executed : but the greater part of those six 
months he must have spent both wisely and well in the elegant 
prose and ingenious verse of " The consolations of Philosophy.** 
In the second volume of this edition. King Alfred's prose Boethius 
will be given in full to the reader : the present work concerns the 
poetry. John Bunyan, we may remember, as well as the holy 
Paul, severally have put a prison to the like good uses : but 
Boethius has been censured, and with some reason, for not adding 
(what Alfred every where supplies) the consolations of religion to 
those of philosophy. His metres, 26 in number, are varied and 
ingenious : they have been systematized by Theodore Pulman ; 
but it would here be out of place to descant upon them : oiu: text 
is Alfred, not Boethius. 

II. A Sorrowful Fytte. 

Cakmiv A qui quondam itodio florente peregl, Flebllif, hen, mcttot eogor inlre mo^t. 



Sane on saelum, 

Ntt acea] aiofigvndt, 

Wope gewttged, 9 

Wrecoea giomor, 

Bingan aar-ewidat. 

Me thioa alccetung bafath 

Agaltd— IhM geocaa, 

Thaet ic tha ged ne meg 10 

G«fegean awa tegre ; 

Thvah le fela gio tha 

Sette aoth ewida. 

Thonne ic on anlaxn w«a. 

Oft lo nu mlicyne 15 

Cuthe iprsce, 

And thaah uneuthra 

JBr kwilum fond. 

Me thaa wotuld scltha 

Wei hwaer blindne. 2 

On thia dimme hoL 
Dysine forlsddon ; 
And me tha beryptoa 
Rsdes and frofre, 
For heora untreownm. 2 
The ic him mtn betat 
Truwian sceolde, 
Hi me toirendon 
Heora bacu bltere, 
And heora bUsae inm* 9 
Forhwam wolde ge, 
WeonUd frynd mine, 
Secgtui oththe singan, 
Thst ic geaellic mon 
Waere on weorulde ? Sj 

Ne aynt tha word aoth, 
Nu tha gesalthane magon 
Simle gewunigan. 

Lo ! I sang cheerily 
In my bright days. 

But now all wearily 
Chaunt I my lays ; 


Sorrowing tearfully. 

Saddest of men. 
Can I sing cheerfully. 

As I could then ? 

Many a verity 

In those glad times 
Of my prosperity 

Taught I in rhymes ; 
Now from forgetfulness 

Wanders my tongue. 
Wasting in fretfulness 

Metres imsung. 

Worldliness brought me here 

Foolishly blind. 
Riches have wrought me here 

Sadness of mind ; 
When I rely on them 

Lo ! they depart, — 
Bitterly, fie on them ! 

Rend they my heart. 

Why did your songs to me. 

World-loving men. 
Say joy belongs to me 

Ever as then ? 
Why did ye lyingly 

Think such a thing. 
Seeing how flyingly 

Wealth may take wing ? 

The original is the opening poem of Boethius ; whereof very 
little is here adopted by Alfred ; but it is almost entirely an inde- 
pendent poem. This may fairly be regarded as a picture of 
Alfred's own mind in the dark times of his adversity. He reviews 
past glories, — ^hints at a confession of some of those early sins of 
worldliness and arrogance whereof Asser has spoken, — ^rebukes 
flatterers, and lies down alongside of Boethius in his dungeon, 
with that sympathy which a brotherhood in grief alone can give. 



III. A Fytte op Despair. 

Hea, qnam praedpiti mena profundo— Meiu hebet, et propria lace relieta. 

MaiM on hn grimmum 
And hu grundleasum 
Seathe swinceth 
Thct aireorcende mod, 
Thonne hit tha atrongan 
Stormaa beauth, 
Weoruld UHnmga : 
Tbonne hit winnende, 
Hia agen leoht 
An forlvteth, 
And mid uua forgit 

Thone eean gefean 
Thringth on tha thioatro 
Sorgum geawenced I 
Swa ia thiaaom nu 
Mode gelumpen : 
Nu hit mare ne wat 
For Oode godea, 
Buton gnornnnge, 
Fremdre worulde : 
Him ia frofre theorf. 


Alas! in how grim 

A gulf of despmr. 
Dreary and dim 

For sorrow and care. 
My mind toils along 

When the waves of the world 
Stormy and strong 

Against it are hurVd. 

When in such strife 

My mind will forget 
Its light and its life 

In worldly regret. 
And through the night 

Of this world doth grope 
Lost to the light 

Of heavenly hope. 

Thus it nath now 

Befallen my mind 
I know no more how 

God's goodness to find. 
But groan in my grief 

Troubled and tost. 
Needing relief 

For the world I have lost 

Here also we have almost'all Alfred ; it is in fact an expansion 
of the two first lines of Boethius as given above, and not a trans- 



lation of the whole ode ; which is of much more considerable 
length. Like the former morsel^ it recals the days when our 
deserted king sang his sorrows to his lonely harp in the neat herd's 
hut^ or on the marsh of iEthelingay. 

IV. A Psalm to God. 

O itelliferi eonditor orbis, Qui perpetuo nixua mUo 

JBala thu sdppcnd 

8cim tungU, 

Hefonei and eorthan ; 

Thu on heah setle 

Ecum licsast. 5 

And' thu ealne' hnethe 

Hefon ymbhwearfeit. 

And thurh thine haligejmiht, 

Tunglu genedest 

Thsthith* toherathl 10 

Bwjlce seo sunne 


Thloatro adwsweth, 

Thnrti thine raeht. 

Blacum leohte 15 

Beorhte 4teorran 

Mona gemetgath, 

Thurh thinra meahta aped ; 

Hwilum eac tha;iunnan. 

Sines bereafath 20 

Beorhtan leohtei, 

Tbonne hit gebyiigan maeg 

Th«et;8wa geneahsne 


Bwvlce thone nueran 25 


The ire othre namaai 


Nemnan herath ; 

Thu genedeat thone, SO 

ThaBt he thaBre aunnan 

SHh bewitige, 

Geara gehwelce ; 

He gongan sceal, 

Beforan feran. 35 

Hwaet thu faeder weroett 

Sumurlange dagaa, 

Swtthe hate : 

Thaem winter dagum 

Wundrum aeeorta 40 

Tida getiohhast I 

Thu thaem treoiruin seleit 

Suthan and westan ; 

Tha aer ae awearta itorm 

Northan and eastan 45 

Benumen haefde 

Leafa gehwelcea, 

Thurh thone lathran wind. 

Eala hwaet on eorthan, 

Salla geaceafta 50 

Hyrath thinre haeae ; 

Doth on heofonum awa some. 

Mode and nuiegne ; 

Butan men anum, 

8e with thinum wHlan 55 

Wyrceth oftost. 






And thu almlhtiga, 

Ealra geaceafta, 

Sceppend and reccend, 60 

Ara thinum earmnm, 

Eorthan tudre, 

Monna cynne, 

Thurh thinra mehta aped ! 

Hwi thu eoe God, 65 

^fre wolde, 

Thaet alo wyrd on gewill, 

Wendan aceolde 

Yflum monnum. 

Ballet awa awithe t 

Hio ful oft dereth 


Sittath jfele men 

Giond eorth-ricu. 

On heah setlum ; 

Halige thriccath 

Uuder heora fotum. 

Firum uncuth, 

Hwi sio wyrd awa wo 

Wiindan aceolde. 

Swa aint gehvdde» 

Her on wonude, 

Geond burga fela, 

Beorhte craeftaa. 


Eallum tidum, 

Habbath on hotpe, 

Tha the him aindon 

Rihtea wiaran, 

Rices wyrthran. 00 

Bith thaet ieaae lot 


Bewrigen mid wrencum* 

Nu on worulde her, 

Monnum ne deriath» 95 


Gif thu nu waldend ne wHt 

Wirde steoran, 

Ac on self-willa 

Sigan laetest ; 100 

Thonne ic wat thaet te wUe 

Woruld-men tweogan, 

Geond foldan-sceat, 


EalaminDryhten. 105 

Ihu the ealle ofersihat 

Worulde gescaafta. 

Wlitnuon monqrn, 

Mildum eagum ; 

Nuhi on monegum her 1 10 

Worulde ythum, 

Wynnath and awineatli 

Eanne eorth-waran 



O Thou, that art Maker of heaven and earth. 
Who steerest the stars and hast given them hirth. 
For ever Thou reignest upon Thy high throne. 
And turnest all swiftly the heavenly zone. 

Thou, by Thy strong holiness, drivest from far 
In the way that Thou wiliest each worshipping star ; 
And, through thy great power, the sim from the night 
Drags darkness away by the might of her light 

The moon, at Thy word, with his pale-shining rays 
Softens and shadows the stars as they blaze. 
And even the Sun of her brightness bereaves 
Whenever upon her too closely he cleaves. 

So also the Morning and Evening Star 
Thou makest to follow the Sun from afar. 
To keep in her pathway each year evermore. 
And go as she goeth in guidance before. 

Behold too, O Father, Thou workest aright 
To siunmer hot day-times of long-living light. 
To winter all wondrously orderest wise 
Short seasons of sunshine with frost on the skies. 

Thou givest the trees a south-westerly breeze. 
Whose leaves the swart storm in its fury did seize 
By winds flying forth from the east and the north 
And scattered and shattered all over the earth. 

On earth and in heaven each creature and kind 
Hears Thy behest with might and with mind. 
But Man and Man only, who oftenest still 
Wickedly worketh against Thy wise will. 

For ever Almighty One, Maker and Lord, 
On us, wretched earthworms. Thy pity be pour'd ; 
Why wilt Thou that welfare to sinners should wend. 
But lettest weird ill the unguilty ones rend ? 

Evil men sit, each on earth's highest seat. 
Trampling the holy ones under their feet ; 
Why good should go crookedly no man can say. 
And bright deeds in crowds should lie hidden away. 


The sinner at all times is scorning the just. 
The wiser in right, and the worthier of trust ; 
Their leasing for long while with fraud is beclad ; 
And oaths that are lies do no harm to the bad. 

Guide, if Thou wilt not steer fortune amain 
But lettest her rush so self-will'd and so vain, 

1 know that the worldly will doubt of Thy might. 
And few among men in Thy rule will delight. 

My Lord, overseeing all things from on high 
Look down on mankind with mercy's mild eye. 
In wild waves of trouble they struggle and strive, 
Then spare the poor earthworms, and save them alive ! 

This is one of the best known of King Alfred's paraphrases, 
and is almost worthy of its holy subject ; for elevation of sentiment 
and breadth of view not easily exceeded by any iminspired writer. 
The metre here adopted is a long line only in appearance ; for 
it has a regular break in the middle, and is in fact nearly the 
same as the 149th psalm : one very appropriate in an address to the 
Glorious Creator. 

The Sun and Moon exchange genders in the Anglo-Saxon 
language ; as in the modem German. Mr Fox refers us to an 
asserted instance of this interchange in Shakspeare, 1st Henry IV, 
A. \.S. 2, which however is very doubtful ; where Prince Hal 
likens " the blessed Sim himself to a fair hot wench in a crimson 
taffety.** It is much more to the point to take notice that in 
Hebrew the same peculiarity of genders is observable, where the 
moon is masculine : while the sun is usually feminine. We may 
add this verbal evidence to those adduced by Turner, bearing 
upon the Asiatic origin of the Saxons, whom he, with great pro- 
bability, considers to be the Sacae of Herodotus. 

Bmyi 23 



V. Of Trouble and its Cure* 

KvBiBtn atrif ,»— Condita nnllum 

Thtt meaht be thaere lonna a 

Sweotole gethencean* 

And be aeghwelcum 


Thara the aefter bungum 5 

Beorhtoat iciaeth ; 

Oif him wan fore 

Wolcen hangath» 

Ke maegen hi iwa leohtne 

Leoman ansendan, 10 


Thinra weorthe. 

8wa oft smjlte aae 

Sutherne wind, 

Graege glaa-hluthre fS> 

Grimme gedxefeth : 

Thonne hie gemengath, 

Micla ytta 

Onhrerath hron-mere ^ 

Hrioh bith thonne fD 

Beotheaer gladtt 

On-aiene waes, 

8wa oft aeapringe 


Of cllfe harum, 25 

Col and hlutor, 

And gereclice 

Itihte floweth. 

Irneth with hia etrdet ; 

Oth him on innan f elth SO 

Mantes m»gen-ttan, 

And him on middan g^igeth, 

Atrendlod of tham torre. 

He on ttt aiththan 

Toaceaden wyrth, 35 

Scir bith gediefed, 

Bnmageblenden ; 

Broc bith on wended, 


Rythum toflowen. 40 

8wa nu tha thiostro 

Thinre heoitan willatk 

Minre leohtan 

Lare wlthstondan : 

And thin mod-gethono 45 

Miclom gedrelan. 

Ac gif thu nu wllnaat, 
Th«t thu wel mage, 
Thaet sothe leoht, 
Sweotole oncnawan, S# 

Leohte geleafan ; 
TIku foriaetan acealt. 
Idle ofer-«aeltha, 
Unnytne gefean; 
Thu acealt eac yfelne ege 55 
Woruld-earfotha ; 
Ne moat thu weaan for thmm 
Ealles to ormod. 
Ne thu the aefre ne laet 60 
Wlenca gewaecan, 
The Uea thu weorthe for him. 
Mid ofer-mettum 
Eft gescended, 

And to upahaien iS 

For onorgum, 
Ne eft to waclice 
^niges godea : 
Thonne the for worulde 
Witherwearda maest 
And thu the aelfum 
Bwithoat onsitte 
Forthaem simle Uth 
Be mod-sefa 
Miclum gebunden mid 
Gedrefneaae : 

Gif hine drecccan mot 80 

Thisaa yfla hwaether, 
Innan swencan. 
Forthaem tha twegen tregaa> 
Teoth to aomne 
With thaet mod forma •& 

Miates dwoleman ; 
Thaet hit aeo ece ne mot 
Hinaogeondacinan [miatiHiay 
Sunne for thaem sweartum 
JEr thaem hi geawithrad weor- 
[then. 9» 



Ye may learn by the stars and the sun 

Shining on cities so bright. 
If the welkin hangs dreary and dun. 

To wait in the mist for the light. 

So too, the calm sea, glassy-grey. 

The southwind all grimly makes riot. 

And whirlpools in strife stir away 

The whale-pool that once was so quiet 

So also, outwelleth a spring. 

All clear from the cliff and all cool. 
Till midway some mountain may fling 

A rock to roll into the pool. 


Then broken asunder will seem 

The rill so clear-running before. 
That brook is turn'd out of its stream. 

And flows in its channel no more. 

So now, in thy darkness of mind. 

Thou wiliest my wisdom to spurn. 
Withstanding, by trouble made blind. 

The lessons thou never wilt learn. 

Yet now, if ye will, as ye may. 

The true and pure light clearly know. 

Let go the vain joys of to-day. 

The weal that brings nothing but woe. 

And drive away bad unbelief. 

The fears of the world and its care. 

And be not thou given to grief. 

Nor yield up thy mind to despair. 

Nor suffer thou glad-going things 

To puff thee with over-much pride. 

Nor worldliness lifting thy wings 

To lure thee from meekness aside : 

And let not, too weakly again. 

Ills make thee despair of the good. 
When hunted by peril and pain. 

And haunted by misery's brood. 

For always the mind of a man 

Is bound up with trouble below. 
If riches or poverty can 

Engraft it with sin or with woe. 

Because the twin evils make dun 

The mind in a misty swart shroud. 
That on it eternity's sun 

Is dim tiU it scatters the cloud. 

It really is a pity to rob Alfred of his originality by representing 
all or any of these poems as servile translations from Boethius, or 


even free paraphrases. The truth is, a good deal of ingenuity is 
required to discover in many cases a resemblance at all. Alfred 
has taken up the tune of Boethius, and begins a theme in the 
key-note of the Latin, but is soon hurried away by the rapidly 
recurring alliterations of his own free harp and tongue and so 
becomes original. With respect to Anglo-Saxon poetry, in most 
instances it is far from an easy task to discover much regularity 
of rhythm,. or anything like exactitude of rhyme. The present 
metre however is an exception ; it pleases the eye and the ear 
alike. Generally speaking, doubtless, a great deal depended on 
the bardic harp and the inspiration of the moment : rhyme and 
rhythm which now in our ignorance escape us, and an alliterative 
jingle, which our modem taste despises, might have been made 
acceptable by stress and accent properly laid, by eloquent pauses 
and stirring bursts of Song. How meagre and dull, for instance, 
our ' God save the Queen ' would look, if we knew nothing of 
the noble air to which it is set ; and how much to further disad- 
vantage would it be seen, if in the lapse of centuries transcribers 
had here and there omitted a rhyme or a line, or had jumbled 
them all together, so as to have hidden away the rhythm ! Suppose 
such a case as that Mr Haynes Bayley may, centuries hence, (if 
this al^v tasts so long,) find an editor to mark out one of his best 
songs in the following learned manner ; 

O no we never 
mention her her 
name is never 
heard my lips are 
now forbid to speak that 
once familiar 
word from sport 
to sport 

This instance may provoke a smile, — ^but it is instructive 
notwithstanding ; possibly, the Junian manuscript and others may 
do our Alfred similar injustice ; and, at any rate, the discoverer 
is still to arise who shall help us to the tunes which doubtless 
rendered all harmonious. Perhaps we know as yet very little 
about the matter : for example ; Dr Hickes, one of our most 
learned scholars in this line, maintains that the Anglo-Saxon 
rhythm is reducible to the rules of Latin prosody : so ridiculous 



does this seem to another equally distinguished man, Mr Tyrwhitt, 
the editor of Chaucer, that he does not scruple to say he can make 
out no metre at all in the so called poems, which are merely an 
inflated style of prose ; while a more recent living writer, by way 
of reconciling such contrarieties, marks out his lines indeed with 
the symbols of dactyls, spondees, trochees, and anapaests, but 
imluckily the words are too stubborn for his gratuitous prosody. 
The case seems to be, that the metres were very various ; 
emphasis and harp-accompaniment made up for many a syllable ; 
the thing would be monotonous in uninspired hands, but stirring 
enough under the touch of genius ; which might rise or fall, be 
tender or impassioned, forte or piano, at its own free wilL At 
present our wisdom is to take random shots at the true metre, if 
existing and discoverable at all, by translating Alfred into a great 
variety, as here done : and for all else, the nearest approximation 
we can make seems to amount to such a play of words as ' whirl- 
pool ' and * whalepool,' ' scattered ' and * shattered ' and the like ; 
together with short staccato sentences ; interweaved synonymes, 
and parallel phrases ; and, now and then, a sort of dancing measure. 
The writer however throughout has desired to make the metrical 
part (whatever may have been his Parnassian pains in this respect,) 
a secondary matter : the first thing to be considered every where 
is the Wise King's mind and meaning. 

VI. Of Change. 

QuuM polo Phoebuf roieii quadrlgls— -Lucem ipargere ccepertt, 

Tha M Wlidom eft 

Word hord onleac, 

Bang loth-cwldu, 

And thus selfa cwsth. 

Thonne aio sunne 5 

Sweotolost aclneth. 

Hadroit of hefone ; 

Hrcthe bioth athiitrod 

Ealle oflr eorthan 

Othre steorran : 10 

Forthaem hiora blrhtu ne bith 

Aoht [birhtneite] 

To reiettane 

Vhh thsre sunnan leoht. 

Thonne smolte blaewth 15 

Suthan and wettan wind, 

Under wolcnum ; 

Thonne weaxeth hratht 

Feldet bloatman, 

Fsgen thaet hi moton. SO 

Ac M iitearca itorm, 

Thonne he strong cytnth, 

Northan and eastan, 

He genimeth hrathe. 

Thaere rosan wlite. li 

And eac tha ruman sse, 

Northeme jst, 

Nede sebaeded. 

Th»t hio strange geond styred 

On suihu beateth. SO 

Eala thaet on eorthan, 

Auht ffltstlices 

Weorces on worulde. 

Me wunath aefre I 

Then did Wisdom again 

Unlock his word-hoard well. 


And sang in soothful strain 
The truths he had to tell. 

When with clearest blaze 

The bright sun shines in the sky. 

The stars must quench their rays 
Over the earth so high ; 

For that, set in the Ught 

Of her that rules by day. 

Their brightness is not bright. 
But dimly dies away. 

When the wind south-west 

Under the cloud blows low. 

Field-flowers wax their best 
Fain to be glad and grow. 

But when East and by North 

The stark storm strongly blows. 

Speedily drives he forth 

All beauty from the rose. 

So, with a stem needs-be 

The northern blast doth dash 

And beat the wide waste sea 
That it the land may lash. 

Alas, that ever on earth 

Nothing is fast and sure ; 

No work is found so worth 
That it for ever endure. 

Very little need here he added, beyond the perpetual protest 
against the idea that Alfred does more than take hints from 
Boethius : justice is done to neither side by the word translation, 
or even paraphrase : for Alfred often omits two thirds of Boethius, 
and makes up by two-thirds of his own. To shew how united 
our modem and ancient English are, there are nearly forty 



words in this short poem unchanged from the royal minstrel's 
Anglo Saxon : and nearly the same ratio will be found to pervade 
most of the other metres. 

VII. Of Content, and Humbleness. 

Qvisauzf volet peiennem Cauttu ponere ledem, 



Tha ongon m WUdom 

His gewunan fjlgan ; 

Olio-worduni gol, 

Gjd »t spelle : 

Song soth-cwida 

Sumne tha geta. 

Cirsth he ne herde, 

That on heanne munt, 

Monna snig 

Meahte asettan 

Healle hrof-faste. 

Ne thearf eac haeletha nan 

Wenan thaet weorces, 

Thaet he wisdom nuege 

With ofermetta 

JBfre geraengan. 

Herdes thu aefre» 

Thaet te aenig mon 

On sond beorgai 

Settan meahte 

Faeste healle t 

Ne maeg eac fira nan 

Wisdom timbran, 

Thaer thaer woruld-giteong 

Beorg oferbraedeth. 

Baru sond willath 

Ren forswelgan. 

Swa deth ricra na 

Orundleas gitsung 


Gcdrinceth to dryggum 

Dieoeendne welan : 

And theah thses thearfan ne bith 

Thurst aceled. 

Ne maeg ha«letha gehwaem, S5 

Htts on munte 

Lange gelaestan ; 

Porthaem him lungre on 

Swift wind swapeth. 

Ne bith sond thon ma. 

With micelne ren, 

Manna aengum, 

Huses hirde ; 

Ac hit hreosan wOe, 

Sigan sond aefter rene. 

Swa bioth anra gehwaes 

Monna mod-sefan, 

Miclom awegede, 

Of hiora stede styrede, 

Thonne he strong dreceth 

Wind under wolcnum» 

Woruldearfotha : 

Oththe hi eft se retha 









Somes ymbhogan, 55 


Ac se the tha ecan 

Agan wille, 

Sothan gesaeltha. 

He sceal swithe fUon M 

Thisse worulde wlite ; 

Wyrce him siththan 

His modes hus, 

Thsr he mage f indan 

Eathmetta stan, 65 


Orund-weal gearone : 

Se to-glidan ne thearf, 

Theah hit wecge wind, 


Oththe ymbhogena, 

Onnete ren. 

Forthfltm on thasre den* 

Drihten sella, 

Than eadmetta 

Eardfast wunigath. 

Thar se Wisdom A 

Wunath on gemvndiUB. 

Forthon orsorg lif 

Ealniff ladath M 

Woruld-men wise, 

Buton wendinge, 

Thonne he eall forslbfh 

Eorthlicu good ; 

And eac thara jfela 85 

Orsorh wunath ; 

Hopath to tham ecum 

The thar after cumath. 

Hine thonne aghwonaa, 

Almihttg Good 00 


Simle gehealdeth, 


His agenum 

Modes geselthum, 05 

Thurh metodes gil^ : 

Theah hine se wind 


Swithe swence, 

And hine singale 100 

Gemen gaele ; 

Thonne him grimme an, 

Worald-saeltha wind 

Wrathe blaweth ; 

Theah the hine ealneg, 105 

Se ymbhoga thjsaa 


Wrathe drecce. 

Again, as his wont, began Wisdom a song. 
And spoke out his spells as he wander'd along. 
He said. On a mountain no man can be skill'd 
With a roof weather-proof a high hall to upbuild. 


Moreover, let no man think ever to win 

By mixing pure wisdom with over-proud sin. 

Heard ye that any built firmly on sand. 

Or caught hold of wisdom with gain-getting hand ? 

The light soil is greedy to swallow the rain ; 
So now doth the rich, in his measureless gain 
Of honours and havings, drink deep of such weal. 
Yea, down to the dregs, and still thirsty will feel. 

A house on a hill-top may never long stay. 
For quickly the swift wind shall sweep it away ; 
And a house on the sand is no better at all ; 
In spite of the house-herd, in rain it shall fall. 

So, failing and fickle is every mind 
When rack*d by the rage of this world-trouble wind ; 
And measureless cares, as a quick-dropping rain 
Unstopping, stir up the mind's welkin with pain. 

But he who would have everlasting true bliss. 
Must fly from the glare of a world such as this : 
And then let him make a strong home for his mind 
Wherever true Lowliness' rock he can find ; 

A settled ground-anchor that never shall sUde, 
Though trouble attack it by tempest and tide ; 
For that, in LowUness' valley so fair 
The Lord, and mind-wisdom for ever live there. 

Therefore leads always a quiet-like life 
The wise in the world without changes or strife. 
When heedless alike of earth's good and earth's ill. 
He watches in hope of an after-world still. 

Such an one evermore God ever kind 

Happily keeps in the calm of his mind; 

Though wild winds of sorrow against him are hurl'd, 

Though always annoyed by the cares of the world. 

Though wrathful and grim are these trouble-dark gales, 

And Care, in its anguish, or anger assails. 


By way of comparing Alfred with Boethius, in a fair average 
instance, here follows a literal translation of the Latin ode whereof 
the Unes above, — also literally rendered from the Anglo Saxon, — 
are commonly supposed to be a paraphrase. 

" Whoever prudently desires to build an everlasting house, and 
firmly wills that it be not thrown down by the blasts of roaring 
Eiuiis, and ventures not to despise the sea threatening with waves, 
let him avoid the top of a high moimtain, and thirsty sands : 
the former firoward Auster drives against with all his might : the 
latter, dissolving, refuse to sustain the pendulous mass. Avoid- 
ing the dangerous portion of a luxurious residence, remember 
for stability to fix thy house on the humble rock. Though the 
wind mingling the sea with ruins should roar like thunder, thou, 
happily hidden in the strength of a quiet rampart, shalt live thy 
life serenely, and laugh at the wrath of the sky." 

As this is so very dissimilar from the poem above, the reader 
will of course suppose that our present version is at fault ; — ^but, 
whatever other deficiencies it must confess to, that of unfaithful- 
ness is not one : we have honestly represented Alfred, with 
scarcely a word added for rhyme's sake. And how beautifully does 
the Christian King improve on the philosophizing senator : we 
are here reading the blest experiences of one taught to be humble 
in the school of adversity. 

Ufuft 24 



VIII. Of Primal Innocence &c. 

Felix niminm prior BtM,<— CootenU fideltbut anif . 

Souiwft M Witdom 

ThM word hafde 

IweCole aroahte, 

He tha siththan ongin 

Singan wth-owidu, i 

And tbot selfk ewath. 

Hwat sio forme eld 


Geond eorthan-sceat, 

JBt^wam dohte I H 

Tha tlia anra gehwam 

On eorthw«Mtmam 

Oenoh thuhte : 

Nil hit nu tha swele. 

Naron tha geond weorulde 15 

welige hamaa, 

Ne mif lice 

Mettas ne drincaa. 

Ne hi thara hragU 

HuTtt ne gemdon, 20 

The nu driht-giunaa 

Diorost IcUth ; 

FortluBm hiora 

Nat tha gieta. 

Ne hi ne getawon 


Ne ymhatan hi 

Awer neherdon. 

Hwat hi flrenliiata 

Fiecene waron, 

Baton swa hi 


Tha gecynd began, 

The him Critt geaoeop, 

And hi ane on daege 


On aefen-Cid, 

Borthan waeatmai, 

Wudet and wyrta. 

Nalleswindrunoan 40 

Bcir of ateape ; 

Naei tha sc^ca nan 

The mete oththe dxinc 

Maengan cuthe, 

Waeter with hunige« 45 

Ne heora waeda then ma 

Sioloce iiowian : 

Ne hi sianM;raeflum 

Oodweb giredon. 

Ne hi gimreced 50 

Setton aearolicc. 

Ac hi simle him, 

Eallum tidum, 

Ute slepon, 

Under beam-eceade. 55 

Druncon human waeter, 

Calde wellan. 

Naenig cepa ne teah 

Ofer ear-geblond, 



Sllendne weanid ; 9$ 

Ne hum ymbe aeip-hergaf 

Sae-tikai ne herdon : 

Ne furthum fira nan 

Ymb gpfeoht sprecaa. 

Nae« theoa eorthe besmiten 95 

Awer tha geta 

Beornet Mode. 

Thehine bill-rude, 

Ne furthum wundne ww, 

Weoruld-buende 70 

Geaawan under sunnaiu 

Naenig siththan waea 

Weorth on weorulde, 

Gif mon hit willan ongeat 

Yfelne mid eldum : 75 

He waet aeghwaem lath 

Bala thaet hit wurde t 

Oththe wolde God, 

Thaet on eorthan nu. 

Us«itida, M 

Geond thaa widen weoruld, 

Waeren aeghwaer awdoe. 

Under lunnan t 

Ac hit is saemre nu, 

Thaet theoa gitsunc hafalh 95 

Sumena gdiweleea. 

Mod amerred : 

Thaet he maran ne reelh : 

Ac hit on witte 

W^eallende bymth, 9f 

Efne aio gitaung 

The naenne grund hafath ; 

Swearte awaefeth, 

Sumeson lice 

Bftae tham mnnte, 05 

The nu monna beam 

Btne haUth ; 

8e on iglonde 


Swefle bymeth, 100 

Thaet mon helle f jr 

Hateth wide 

Forthaem hit aimle bith, 

Sin-byrnende ; 

And ymbutan hit 105 


Blate forbiemth, 

Biteran lege. 

Eala hwaet se forma 

Feoh-gitiere 110 

Waere on worulde, 

8e thaa wong-atedaa 

Grof aefter golde, 

And aefter gim-cynnum ; 

H waet he f recnu geatxeon 1 15 

Funde maenegum, 

Bewrigen on weorulde, 

Waetere oththe eorthan I 

Soon as Wisdom thus had sung^ 
He began, with plainer tongue. 
Sooth to sing his sayings thus^ 
And himself to speak to us. 

O how full of blessing then 
Was the first glad age to men ! 


When earth's fruitful plenty came 

(Not as now,) to all the same ; 

When through all the world were there 

No great halls of costly care ; 

No rich feasts of meat or drink ; 

Neither did they heed or think 

Of such jewels, then unknown. 

As our lordlings long to own ; 

Nor did seamen aye behold 

Nor had heard of gems or gold 

More ; with frugal mind they fared ; 

And for pleasures only cared. 

As at Christ's and kindred's voice 

They were bidden to rejoice. 

Once in the day, at eventide. 

They ate earth's fruits, and nought beside ; 

No wine they drank, their stoup was clear ; 

No cunning slave was mingUng near 

Meats and drinks, to glut their greed. 

Or make the heated hone)anead ; 

No silk-sewn weeds wish'd they to wear, 

Nor good-webs dyed with crafty care 

Nor set on high with skilful power 

The mighty dome, or lofty tower. 

But, under the sweet shade of trees 

They slept at all times well at ease. 

And, when thirsting, gladly took 

Water from the running brook ; 

Never trader wandered o'er 

Seas to seek a foreign shore. 

Never had one heard indeed 

Of ships to till the briny mead ; 

Nowhere yet with blood of men 

Was the earth besmitten then. 

Nowhere had the sun beheld 

Steel that struck, or wound that well'd. 

Those who work'd an evil will 

Won not worship for their ill ; 

All would then have loathed them sore : 

O that this could be once more ! 


O that God would now on earth 
Make us all so purely worth ! 
But alas, men now are worse ; 
Lust of getting sets a curse 
As a clog upon each mind. 
Reckless other good to find. 
Lust of gain unfathomed glows 
In the heart with bubbling throes ; 
Swart it lies, and sweltering deep. 
Like old Etna's boiling heap. 
Which, in Sicily's broad isle. 
Bums with brimstone many a mile. 
So that men around it tell. 
Of its fires as fires of hell. 
For that ever still it bums 
Bitter everywhere by turns. 

Woe I that ever should have been 
In this world the sinner seen. 
Who was first so basely bold 
As to dig for gems and gold : 
Cares for many then he found 
Darkly hidden in the ground. 
Dangerous wealth and deadly worth 
In the deeps of sea and earth. 

Alfred and Boethius get nearer together in this ode, which is 
not wonderful, as there is very little to draw out the wise thought- 
fulness of Alfred's mind. Accordingly, he cared not to suffer his 
harp to make digressions : it is merely a contrast between the 
golden age and the age of gold. 



IX. Nero. 

KoTimus quantM dederit roinaa Uibe flaiiun»ta, patribusque casii, 

Hwaet we ealle witon 

Hwelce aerleste, 

Ge neah ge feor, 

Neron worhte, 

Romwara ryning, 5 

Tha his rice waes 

Hehst under heofonnm, 

To hryre monegum, 

Waelhreowes gewed 

Waea ful wide cuth, 10 


Arlea»U fela, 

Man and morthor, 

Misdaeda worn, 

Unrihtwiset 15 

Inwid-lhoncas 1 

He het him to gamene, 

Gears forbaernan, 

Romana burig. 

Bio his ricea waes 20 


He for unsnyttrum, 

Wolde fandUn, 

Gif thaet fyr raeahte 

Lixan swa leohte, 2S 

And swa longe eac, 

Readra settan, 

Sws he Romane 

Secgan geherde, 

That on sume tide, SO 

Troia burg. 

Ofertogen haefde 

Lega leohtost, 

Lengest bume 

Hama under hefonum. 35 

N«s thaet herlic dcd, 

Thftt hine sw.lces gamenes 

Gilpan lyste, 

Tha he ne eamade 

Elles wuhte ; 40 

ButoD thaet he wolde. 

Ofer wer-thiode, 

His anes hum. 

AnwiUd cythan. 

£ac hit gesaelde, 45 

Mt sumum cierre, 

Thaet se ilea het 

Ealle acweilan 

Tha ricoatan 

Romana witan, 50 

And tha aetheleatan 

Eorl gebyrdum. 

The he on thaem folce 

Gefrigen hefde : 

And on uppan 55 

Agene brothor. 

And hia modor mid, 

Meca ecgum, 

Blllnm of-beatan. 

He hia bryde of aiog 60 

Self mid sweorde : 

And he ayinle waea 

liicle the blithra 




On breoat cofan, 

Thonne he awylcea morthrea 65 

M»at gefremede. 

Nailea aorgodr, 

Hwaether aiththan 4, 

Mihtig Drihten 

Ametan wolde 

Wrece be gewyrlitum, 


Ac he on ferthe faegn. 

Facnes and aearuwa. 

Waelhriow wunode. 

Wiold emne awa tbeah 

Eallea thiaaea maeran 


Swa awa Iy(t and lagn 

Land ymbclyppath, 

Gar-aecg embe-gyrt 

Gumena rice 

Secge aitiu ; 

Suth-eaat and weat, 

Oth tha northmeatan 

Naeaaan on eorthan ; 

Ball thaet Nerone, 

Nede oththe luatum, 

Heatho-rinca gehwile, 

Heran aceolde. 

He haefde him to gamene 

Thonne he on gylp aatag, 

Hu he eorth-cyningaa 

Ynnde and cwelmde. 

Wenat thu thaet ae anwald 

Eathe ne meahte 

Godea aelmihtigea 

Thone gelp-acathan, 

Rice beraedan, 

And bereafian 

Hia anwaldea, 

Ihurh tha ecan meaht ; 

Oththe him hia yfelea 

Ellea geatioran r 

Eala gif he wolde. 

Thaet he wel meahte, 

Thaet unriht him, 

Eathe forbiodan I 

Ealrla thaet ae hiaford 

Hefig gioc alepte, 

Sware on tha awyran 

Sinra thegena. 

Ealra thara haeletha. 

The on his tidnm 

Geond thas laenan worold 

Liban sceoldon. 

He on unscyldgum 

Eorla blode 

Hia aweord aelede 

8 withe gelome. 129 

Thaer waea awithe sweotol, 

Thaet we saedon oft, 

Thaet ae anwald ne deth 

Awiht godea, 

Gif se wel nele 125 

The his geweald hafath. 






All know too well, abroad or near at home. 
What evils Nero wrought, that kmg of Rome, 
When, highest under heav'n, his rule was then 
The dread and overthrow of many men. 
The madness of this savage bred betimes 
Lust, murder, vile misdeeds, a bad man's crimes ; 


He gave the word of old to wrap in flame 
Rome's self , his kingdom's seat,to make him game ; 
Wishing in wicked wantonness to know 
Whether the fire so long and red would glow 
As erst in Troy, he heard that Romans said. 
The mounting fire bum'd longest and most red. 
Base deed, in such fierce frolic to delight. 
Aimless and vain, unless to mark his might. 

And, once it happened, at a certain hour. 
He would again show forth his frantic power. 
And bade the richest men of Rome be slain, 
Each earl of highest birth, each wisest thane : 
With swords and bills he hewed until they died 
His mother, brother, yea, and his own bride, — 
Ever the blither in his own bad breast 
When he had done such murders cruellest. 
Nothing reck'd he that soon the mighty Lord 
Would mete out wrath to sinners so abhorr'd. 
But in his mind, that fed on wicked wiles, 
Remain'd a savage, wreath'd in cunning smiles. 

Still, even he so ruled this middle earth 
Far as the land hath air and sea for girth. 
Far as the sea surrounds all men and things. 
The seats of warriors and the thrones of kings. 
That from the South and East and furthest West 
And Earth's high head-land reaching northernest. 
All to this Nero willing worship gave. 
And every chief by force became his slave. 
Till 'twas his game,when pride had puff dhis mind. 
To hunt and kill the kings of human-kind. 

But thinkest thou that God's all holy might 
Could not with ease this haughty sinner smite. 
And scathe his pride, and drive him from the helm. 
Or quench his guilt, and so berid the realm ? 
O that he would, as well he might with ease. 
Ever forbid such wrongful works as these ! 
Woe, that this lord should cast so heavy a yoke 
On all men's necks, both thanes and serving folk. 



Who, for the harmful season of his power. 
Lived in this world their quickly passing hour : 
Woe, that his sword was often weltering then 
With blood of highborn earls and guiltless men. 

Clearly in this, our saying shone out bright. 
That power can do no good, as well it might. 
If he who rules, wills not to rule aright 

Here also Alfred stays with Boethius, so long as he is giving 
the portrait of an evil king ; but the moral of the picture is all his 
own. For some strange reason or other, Boethius, though a 
Christian, perpetually forgets that Religion is the highest form 
of Philosophy. 

X. Of Fame and Death. 

Quicumque tolam mente prscipiti petit,- 

immamque credit gloriam ; 

Oif nu hcletha hwone 
Hlisan lyste ; 
Vnnytne gelp 
Agan wille; 
Thonne ic hine wolde 
Wordum biddan, 
Thst he hine aeghwonon 
Utan ymbe thohte, 
SweoCole ymb lawe, 
Suth-eaat and west. 
Ha widgU tint 
Wolcnum yrobutan, 
Heofones hwealfe, 
M«g eathe thincan 
Thst theot eorthe de, 
Eall for thaet other, 
Ungemet lytel, 
Theah hio unwiauxn 
Widgel thince, 
— On ttede ttronglic, 
Steorleaaum men. 
Theah msg thone wisan 
On gewit-locan, 
Thsre gitaunge 
Gelpet scamian, 
Thonne hine thiet hliaao 
Heardost lynteth. 
And he theah ne m«g 
Thone tobredan» 
Ofer thaa neaiowan, 




Ncnige thinga 


It thst unnet gelp 1 

Eala ofermodan, 

Hwi eow alyste, 

Mid eowrum swiran, 

Selfra willum 


Symle underlutanf 

Hwy ge ymb thst nnntt 

Ealnig swincen, 

Thst ge thone hliian 

Habban tUiath, 

Ofer thioda ma 

Thonne eow thearf sief 

Theah eow nu geisle, 

Thst eow suth oththe north, 

Tha ytmestan 


On monig thiodiio 

Miclum herien. 

Theah hwa sthele sie, 

Eorl geb]nrdum. 

Welum geweorthath. 

And on wlencum thio, 

Duguthum diore ; 

Death thsfl ne tcrlfeth, 

Thonne him rum forlst 

Rodora waldend. 

Ac he thone wetogan 

Wsdlum gelice, 







Efn m«rne gedeth 

JElceB thinget. 

Hwser Rint nu th«s wisan 6S 

Welandes ban. 

Thst gold-smithes, 

The wcs geo mcerost t 

Forthy ic cwcth th»s wisan, 

Welandes ban : 70 

Forthy snguro ne meg 


Se crsft losian, 

The him Crist onlsnth. 

Me msg men sfre thy eth 75 

Anne wr«ccan, 

His craeftes beniman, 

The mon oncerran mng 
Sunnan onswifan, 

And thisne swiftan rodor, 80 

Of his riht-ryne, 

Rinca aenig I 

Hwa wat nu thaes wisan 

Welandes ban ; 

On hwelcum in hlsewa 65 

Hmsan theccen? 

Hwcr is nu se rica 

Roraana wita. 

And se aroda 

The we ymb sprecath ; 90 

Hion heretoga 

Se gehaten wks, 

Mid thsm burhwarum, 

Brutus nemned ! 

H wer is eac se wisa, 95 

And se weorth-ffeoma, 

And se fsst-rsda 

Folces hyrde : 

8e wss uthwita 

JElces thinges 100 

Cene and cneftig, 

Thsem wses Caton nimaf 

Hi wcron gefym 

Forth -gewitene. 

Mat nsnig mon 105 

Hwser hi nu sindon. 

Hwset is hiora here, 

fiuton se hlisa an 


Swelcra lariowa, 110 

Foithsm tha mago-rincaa 

Maran wyrthe wsron, 

On worulde. 

Ac hit is wyrsenu, 

Thst geond thas eoxthan, 115 

MghyratT sindon 

Hiora gelican ; 

Hwon ymb sprsece : 

Sume openlice 

£a]le forgitene. 120 

Th«t hi se hlisa 

Hiw-cuthe ne maeg 

Fore-m«re weras, 

Forth gebrengan. 

Theah ge nu wenen, 125 

And wilnigen, 

Thst ge lange tid 

Libban moten : 

Hwst iow sfre thy bet 

Bio oththe wince ; ISO 

Forthsm the nane forlet 

Theah hit lang thince, 

Death sfter dogor rime, 

Thonne he hsfth Drlhtnes leafef 

Hwst thonne hsbbe 

Hsletha snig 

Gum St thsm gilpe, 

Oif hine gegripan mot 

8e eca death, 

After thissum womlde r 


If any man will be so vain 
As now for fame to lust. 

The empty praise of men to gain 
And in such folly trust. 

Him would I bid to gaze around 

The circle of the sky. 
And think how far above the ground 

The heav*n is wide and high. 

How small this world to wisdom's ken 

Set against that so vast. 
Though ours may seem to witless men 

Huge, wide, and sure to last 

Yet may the wise in heart feel shame 
That once his thirst was strong 

For silly greediness of fame 
That never lasteth long. 

Such lust of praise he may not spread 
Over this narrow earth. 


Tis folly all, and of the dead, 
A glory nothing worth. 

And you, O proud, why wish ye still 

And strive with all your care 
The heavy yoke of your own will 

Upon your necks to bear ? 

Why will ye toil yet more and more 

For glory's useless prize. 
And reach your rule from shore to shore 

Unneeded and imwise ? 

Though now ye reign from South to North 

And, with an earnest will. 
The furthest dwellers on the earth 

Your dread behests fulfil. 

The greatest earl of wealthiest praise 

However rich or high. 
Death cares not for him, but obeys 

The Ruler of the sky. 

With even hand right swift to strike. 

At His allowing word. 
The rich man and the poor alike 

The lowborn and his lord. 

Where are the bones of Weland now. 

So shrewd to work in gold ? 
Weland, though wise, to death must bow 

That greatest man of old : 

Though wise, I say ; for what Christ gives 

Of wisdom to a man. 
That craft with him for ever lives 

Which once on earth began : 

And sooner shall a man's hand fetch 

The sun from her due course. 
Than steal from any dying wretch 
His cunning skill by force. 
^^* 25 


Who then can tell, wise Weland's bones 
Where now they rest so long ? 

Beneath what heap of earth and stones 
Then* prison is made strong ? 

Rome's wisest son, be-known so well. 
Who strove her rights to save. 

That mighty master, who can tell 
Where Brutus has a grave ? 

So too, the man of sternest mould. 
The good, the brave, the wise. 

His people's shepherd, who hath told 
Of Cato, where he lies ? 

Long are they dead : and none can know 
More of them than their name : 

Such teachers have too little now 
Of all their worthy fame. 

Now too, forgotten everywhere. 

The like to them have found 
But little kindly speech or care 

From all the world around ; 

So that, however wise in worth 

Such foremost men may stand. 

No home-felt praises bring them forth 
For fame throughout the land. 

Though now ye wish long time to live. 

And pine to have it so. 
What better blessing can it give 

Than now ye find below ? 

As Death lets none go free at last 

When God allows his power. 
If Death For-ever follows fast. 

How short is this world's hour ! 

In the second volume of the Jubilee Edition (Cardale's Boe- 
thius,) we shall be told all about this Weland, whom to please 



his people and perhaps himself, (for Alfred was a worker in gold 
also,) we find here substituted for the Fabricius of the Latin ode : 
XJbi nunc fidelis ossa Pabricii jacent ? 
Alfred allows himself to go off at a tangent, as playing upon the 
word faber a workman, to praise the famous goldsmith, whom 
the poet's harp alone has now immortalized. 

XL Of God's Wise Government. 

Quod mondua sUbili fide Concordes Ttriat Ticet, 

An sceppend U, 

Butan eelcum tweon, 

8e is eac wealdend 


Ueofones and eorthao. 

And heah sn : 

And ealra thara 

The thar in wnniath 


And eac twa same. 

Thara the we eagum 

On lociath, 

Ealra gesceafta. 


Thaem oleccath 

Ealle gesceafte, 

The thaes ambehtes 

Awuht cunnon. 

Ge eac swa same 

Tha thss auht nyton, 

Tha>t hi thss theodnes 

Theowas sindon. 

8e us gesette 

Sido and theawas, 

Eallum gesceaf turn 


Singallice ; 

Sibbe gecynde; 

Tha tha he wolde, 

Th«t thst he wolde, 

Swa lange swa he wolde, 

That hit wesan sceolde, 

Swa hit eac to worulde sceal 

Wunian forth. 

Forthsm »fre ne magon 

Tha unatillan 


Weorthan gestilde ; 

Of thaera ryne onwend, 

The him rodera weard 


Eallum gesette 

Haefth se alwealda 

Ealle gesceafta 

Gebeet mid his bridle ; 

Hatath butu gedon ; 

Ealle gemanode, 

And eac gctogen ; 

That hi ne moten 

Ofer raetodesest 

JEtTC gestillan : 

Ne eft eallunga 

Swithor stirian, 

Thonne hi sigora-weard 

His geweald-lether 

Wille onlapten. 

He hafath tham bridle 

Butu befangen 

Heolon and eorthan, 

And eall holma-begong. 60 

Swa hafth geheatharod, 

Hefon-rices weard 

Mid his anwealde, 
5 Ealle gesceafta ; 

That hiora aghwUc 65 

With other wtnth ; 

And theah winnende, 

Wrethiath faste 
10 ^ghwilc other, 

XJtan ymbclyppeth, f 

Thy las hi toswifen. 

Fortham hi symle sculon 

Thone ilcan ryne 
15 Eft gecyrran. 

The at frymthe, 75 

Fader getiode, 

And swa edniwe, 

Eft gewiorthan ; 
20 Swa hit nu fagath,— 

Frean eald geweorc ; 80 

That te winnende. 

Witherweard gesceaft, 

Faste sibbe 
25 Forth anhealdath. 

Swa nu Fyr and water, 85 

Folde and lagu stream, 

Manigu othru gesceaft 

Efn swithe him, 
90 Giond thas widan worulde, 

Winnath betweox him, 90 

And swa theah magon 

Hiora thegnunga, 

And geferscipe, 
35 Faste gehealdan. 

Kis hit no that an, 95 

That swa eathe mag 

Witherweard gesceaft 

Wesan atgadere, 
40 Syrabel geferan : 

Ac hit is selllcie, 100 

That hiora anig ne mag 

Butan othrum bion : 

Ac sceal wuhta gehwilc 
45 Witherweardes hwat-hwugu 

Habban under heofonum, 105 

That his hige 

Durre gemetgian, 

JEt hit to micel weOTthe. 
50 Hafth se almihtiga 

Eallum gesceaftum 110 

That gewrixle geset. 

The nu wunian sceal ; 

Wyrta growan, 
55 Leaf grenian, 

That on harfest eft 1 1 5 

Hrest and wealuwath. 

Winter bringeth 




SwifU windM. 

Sumorsftercymeth, 12(y 

Weann gewideru. 

Hwst tha wonnan aiht 

Mona onlihteth, 

Oththaet monnum dcg 

Sunne bringeth, 125 

Giond tbas flidan getceak. 

Hsfth Be ilea God 

Eorthan and wetere 

Mearce gesttte. 

Mere-fltream ne deat 130 

Ofer eorthan sceat, 

Eard gebrsdan 

Flsca cvnne, 

Butan Irean leafe : 

Ne hio cfre ne mot 135 

Eorthan thyrsc-wold 

Up ofer tteppan ; 

Ke tha ebban thon ma 

Foldes mearce ofer. 

Faran moton. 140 

Tha gesetnessa 

8igora wealdend. 

Lues ieobt fruma, 

L»t thenden he wile, 

Geond thas mseran gesceait 145 

Mearca healden. 

Ac thonne se eca. 

And se slmihtiga, 

Tha geweald-letheru 

Wile onlaetan, 150 

Efne thara bridla, 

The he gebsette 

Mid his agen weorc, 

Eall set fryrothe ; 

Thst is wither weardnes 155 

Wuhte gehwelcre. 

The we mid thaem bwidle 

Becnan tUiath ; 

Gif se thioden l«t 

Thatoslupan. 160 

Bona hi forlaetath 

Lufan and tibbr, 

Thses geferscipet 

Freond-raedenne : 

Tiiath anra gehwilc lf» 

Agnes willan. 


Winnath betweox him, 


Eall forweortheth : r7» 

And eac swa same, 

Othra gesceafta 

Weortnath him selfo 

Siththan to nauhte. 

Ac se ilea God 179 

Se thaet eall metgatb. 

Be gefehth feU 

Folca to somne. 

And mid freondscipe 

Fseste gegadrath. 180 

Gesamnath sinscipas, 

Bibbe gemengeth 

Claenlice lufe. 

Bwa se craltga eac» 

Geferseipas IM 

Fsste gesamnath, 

Thst hi hiora freondicipa. 

Forth on symbeU 


Treowa gehealdath, 199 

Sibbe samrade, 

Eala sigora God I 

Wsr this moneys 

Miclum gesdig, 

Gif hiora mod-sefe 199 

Meahte weorthan 

Btatholfsst gereaht, 

Ihurh tha strongan meaht 

And ge endebyrd, 

Bwa swa othra sint 20t 

Woruld gesceafta. 

Ware hit la thonne 

Murge mid moanum, 

Gif hit meahte swa 1 

One, only One, made all the heavens and earth ; 
Doubtless, to Him all beings owe their birth ; 

And, guided by His care. 
Are all, who therein dwell unseen of us. 
And these whom we can look at, living thus 

In land and sea and air. 

He is Almighty : Him all things obey. 

That in such bondage know how blest are they. 

Who have so good a king ; 
Those also serve, who thereof know not aught ; 
Dutiful work, however httle thought. 

As bondslaves they must bring. 

He hath set out in kindred kindness still 
Duties and laws to work his changeless will. 

And, after his own mind. 
That which he will'd, so long as will he would. 
He wiird that everything for ever should 

Thenceforward keep its kind. 


Never may restless things to rest attain^ 
And from that settled cu-cle turn in vain 

Which order's God hath given ; 
He hath set fast, and check'd them each and all 
By the strong measured bridle of his call 

To rest, or to be driven. 

As he, great Word, the leathern reins of might 
Holds loose in his right hand, or draws them tight ; 

For he hath stretch'd along 
His bridle over earth, air, sea, and beach. 
That all things, leaning fastly each on each. 

By double strife stand strong. 

For, ever as at first the Father bade. 

In the same ways of running that he made 

Still changing though unchanged. 
By strife most steady keeping peace most true 
Our Free-Lord's handicraft, so old yet new. 

Is evermore arranged. 

Thus earth and seastream, fire and water thus. 
And all great things about or far from us. 

Betwixt themselves hold strife. 
Yet so good fellowship all fastly keep. 
And render bondage true, and duty deep 

To him who lent their life. 

Nor only thus, that, each the rest to please. 
Whitherward things together dwell at ease. 

But, far more strange than so. 
Not one, but on its thwarter still depends 
And lives on that which while it harms befriends. 

Lest it too great should grow. 

Wisely the mighty Framer of the world 
Hath set this turn-about for ever twirl'd. 

Yet ever still to stay ; 
The sprouting wort shoots greenly from its root. 
And dying, then, in harvest yields its fruit 

To live another day. 


Winter brings weather cold, swift winds and snow ; 
Summer comes afterward with warming glow ; 

By night outshines the moon ; 
Till o'er this wide-seen world the day up-springs. 
And to all men the sun retimning brings 

Her welcome brightness soon. 

So also, God hath bounded sea and land : 
The fishy kind, except at his command. 

On earth may never swim : 
Nor can the sea earth's threshold overleap. 
Nor can the earth, beyond the tide at neap, 

O'erstep the sea's wide rim. 

These things the Soiu-ce and Spring of life and light. 
The Lord of wielded might, by his will's right, 

Biddeth their bounds to keep. 
Until the Everliving one makes burst 
The curbing bridle set on all at first. 

And so unreins the deep. 

By rein and bridle in a hint I teach 

The waywardness of all things each on each ; 

For, if the Ruler will'd 
The thongs to slacken, things would soon forsake 
All love and peace, and wilful evil make 

Instead of good fulfill'd. 

Each after its own selfish will would strive. 
Till none of things on earth were left alive 

In such bewrestUng stem ; 
And in like manner other things unseen 
Would be as if they never then had been. 

All brought to nought in turn. 

But the same God, who meteth all things thus. 
Makes folk to be at peace with all and us. 

In friendship true and fast : 
He knits together in a love most fond 
Unending wedlock, and the kindred bond 

For evermore to last. 



So too, the skill'd All-worker well unites 
The fellowship of men in friendly rights. 

That they may live at peace 
In simple truthfulness and single strength 
Thenceforth for ever of one mind at length 

To make all evil cease. 

O God All-conquering ! this lower earth 
Would be for men the blest abode of mirth 

If they were strong in Thee, 
As other things of this world well are seen ; 
O then, far other than they yet have been 

How happy would men be ! 

This is a famous specimen of Alfred's moral and natural philo- 
sophy: he enlarges upon the antagonistic idea, the 'pugnantia 
semina ' of Boethius, till he " vindicates the ways of God with 
man,** and shows how the green world could have rolled in placid 
order out of the opposed forces of a chaos. It were possible, on 
each occasion, to multiply notes to any amount, but the reader 
will be better pleased if we pass on speedily. 

XII. Uses of Adversity. 

Qui serere ingenuum volet agnun, Liberat anrm piiuf fniticibui, 

Be the wille wyrcan 
Wcitmbcre lond, 
Atio of th«in aecere, 
Mtft lona 
Fearn and thornaa, 
And fynaa i wm same wiod : 
Tha the wUUth 
Wei hw»T derian 
Clsnum hwcte : 
Thy laes he cithft-Ieas 
Liege on thatm lande. 
If leoda gehwcm 
Thioa othru bysen 


Th«t it thatt te thynceth 

Thegna gehwelcum 

Huniget bi-bread 

HealM thy twetre, 

Oil he hwene aer 

Hunigea tcre 

Bitrea onbyrgrth. 

Bith eac awa same 

Xfonna aeghwilc, 

Mide thy fsgentm 

Lithe* wethret, 

Oif hine lytle cr 

Stonnaa geatondath. 

And ae atearca wind 

Northan and eaatan. 

Ncnegum thuhte 

D«g on thnnce, 

Oif aio dimme niht, 

JEt ofer eldum, 

Egeaan ne brohte. 

Swa thincth ania gehwsm, 35 

5 Sio aothe geselth, 

Symle the betere, 

And thy wynaumre, 

The he wiu ma, 40 

Heardra hentha, 
10 Her adreogeth. 

Thtt meaht eac mycle thy eth 

On rood-aefan, 

Sotha geaaeltha 

Sweotolor gecnawan, 
15 And to heora cy ththe 

Becuman aiththan, 

Gif thu up atyhath, 

Areit aona, 

And thu awyrtwalaat. 
20 Of gewit-locan. 

Leaaa geadtha. 

Swa awa londea-ceorl 

Of hia aecere lycth 

Yfel theod monig. 
25 Siththan ic the aeege, 

Thct thu aweotole meaht 

Botha geacltha 

Sona oncnawan : 
And thu «fre ne recat 
SO JEnigea thingea, 

Ofer tha aoe, 
Gif thtt hi MllM ongitet 






Whoso wills to till a field. 
Well to bear a fruitful yield. 
Let him first pluck up and burn 
Thorns and thistles, furze and fern. 
Which are wont clean wheat to hurt 
Lying lifeless in the dirt 

And this other likeness too 
Well behoves us all to view, 
Namely, that to those who eat 
Honeycomb, it seems more sweet 
If a man, before the tear 
Of honey, taste of bitter cheer. 

So, it falls that all men are 
With fine weather happier far 
If a little while before 
Storms were spread the welkin o'er. 
And the stark wind East by North 
Lately rush'd in anger forth. 

None would think the daylight dear 
If dim night they did not fear ; 
So, to every one of us. 
On the broad earth dwelling thus, 
Joy more joyous still is seen 
After troubles once have been. 

Also, thine own mind to please. 
Thou shalt gain the greater ease. 
And shalt go where true joys grow 
If all false joys thou forego. 
As ill weeds are pulVd with toil 
By the landchurl from the soil. 

And hereafter, thee I tell. 
True joys there await thee well ; 
Aye and here, if these be first. 
Thou for nought beside wilt thirst. 
But all else shall fail to please 
If thou truly knowest these. 



This is a nice consolatory bit of our good king's Christian philo- 
sophy : and strangely better than the thirteen lines of Boethius, 
whereon the ode of Alfred is hung. In our version every word 
is Anglo-Saxon English ; and we have been careful to preserve 
the pretty phrase ' huniges teare/ as closer, and more poetical 
too, than (as the writer at first rendered the words,) 

If a man before the drop 
Of honej, taste the bitter sop. 

XIII. Of Inward Likings. 

Quantu rerum flectat hftbenaa Natum potenis quibui immeniuni 

le wiUe mid giddum 

Get gecythan, 

Hu se slmihtiga 

Ealra gesceafta 

Brjrth mid hiB bridlum, S 


Mid hit anwealde 

Ge endebyrd, 


Wei gemetgath. 10 

Halath awa geheatlunad 

Heofona weaidend, 

Utan belangen 

Ealla gesceafta, 

Oeneped mid hit racentan, 15 

Tb»t hi axedian ae magoa 

Thct hi hi mttt him 

Of aslepen : 

And thaah wuhta gehwile, 

Wrigath to-heald, 20 

Sidra getceafUu 

Swithe onhelded 

With th«t gecyndea, 

The hi cyntogengla, 

Fader aet frymthe, 35 

Fsste getiode. 

Swa Du thinga gehwile, 

Thider-weard fundath, 

Sidra geseeafta, 

Bugon lumum englum, 80 

And moncrnne ; 

Than mlciet to feola,, 


Winth with gecynde. 

Tbeah nu on londt, 55 

Leon gemete, 

Wyntume wiht, 

Wei atemede, 

Hire magister 

M icium lufige, 40 

And eac ondraede, 

Dogora gehwelee ; 

Oif hit »fre getslth, 

Th»t hio snigea 

Blodea onbyrgeth. 45 

Ne thearf beorna nan 

Wenan there wyrde, 

Tb»t hio wel liththan, 

Hire taman healde : 

Ac ic tiohhie 50 

Th«t hio th»t niwan taman, 

Nanht ne gehicgge ; 

Ac thone wildan gewunan 

wait ■ 


Hire eldrena. 51 

Onginth eomeato 

Racentan alitan, 

Ryn grymetigan. 

And aereat abit 

Hire agenea M 

Huaes hirde ; 

And hrathe aiththan, 

Hsletha gehwilcne, 

The bio gehentan maeg. 

Nele hio foriston 65 

Libbendea wuht. 

Neata ne monna: 

Nimth eaU th»t hio fint. 

Swa doth wudu-luglaa, 

Theah hi wel aien 70 

Tela atemede: 

Gil hi on treowum weoithath 

Holte to middea, 

Hr«the bioth aoraeweae 

Heora lareowaa, 75 

The hi lange »r, 

l^don and temedon. 

Hi on treowum wilde, 


A forth aiththan, 80 

WUlum wuniath ; 

Theah him wolde hwQe, 

Heora lareowa, 

Liatum beodan, 

Thone ilcan mete, 85 

The he hi »ror mid 

Tame getede ; 

Him tha twigu thincath 

Emne awa merge, 

Thaat hi thaea metea ne rtcth 90 

Thincthhim to thon wynaum, 

Thaet him ae weald oncwyth ; 

Thonne hi geherath 

Hleothrum brsgdan. 

Othrefugelaa; 95 

Hi heora agne 

Stefne atyriath. 

Stunath eal geador 

Wel-winanm aane, 

Wadu eallum oncwyth. 100 

Swa bith eallum treowum, 

The him on aathele bith, 

Th»t hit on holte 

Hyhat geweaxe. 

Theah thu hwUcne boh. 105 

Byge with eorthan, 

He bith upweardea, 

Swa thu an forlaataat : 



Widu on wfllan, 

Went on gaeynda. 110 

Swa deth eac tio lunne, 

Thonne hio on sign weortbetk, 

Ofer niidne d»g, 


Scyft on ofdsle, 115 

Uttcnthne weg 

Nthtet genetheth : 

North eft and eatt 

Eldnm otewoth, 

Brencth eorth-wanim 120 

Morgen veto torhtne. 

Hlo ofer moncjm atihth 

A upweardef, 

0th hio eft eymeth. 

Than hire y f emett bith 1 25 


8wa twa »lc gesceaft, 

Ealle msgene, 

Oeond thai widan woruld, 

Wrigath and higath, ISO 

Ealle msgene, 

Eft tymie on lyt 

With hit geeyndef, 

Cymth to thonne hitmsg. 

Kit nu ofer eorthan 1S5 

Anegu getceaft. 

The ne wiluie thaet hio, 

Wolde euman. 

To tham eardet 

Thehioofbeeom, 140 

Thaet i> orsorgnes. 

And ecu rest ; 

Thet if openlicer 

^Imihti God. 

Nil nu ofer eortkaa 14f 

JEnegu gesceaft, 

The ne hwearftge 

Swa twa hweol deth. 

On hire lelfre ; 

Forthon hioawahwiarlMb, 150 

Thaet hio eft cume, 

Tbaer hio eior waa. 

Thonne hio srest tie 

Utan behwerfed ; 

Thonne hio eallea wyrth 165 

Utan becerred ; 

Hio tceol eft don 

Th»t hio «r dyde, 

And eac wetan, 

Thaet hio «ror w»t. 100 

I will with songs make known 

How the Almighty still 
Bridles all things from his throne 
And bends them to his will. 
By His wielded might 
Set wonderfully right. 

The Ruler of the skies 

Hath well-girt all things so, 
Binding them in such strong ties. 
Aside they cannot go. 

And may not find the way 
Whereby to slip astray. 

And each living thing 

On this crowded earth 
Firmly to the bent doth cling 
Which it had at birth 
From the Father's hand 
King of angel-land : 

Thus each one we find 

Of beings in their turn. 
Save some bad angels and mankind 
Thitherward doth yearn ; 
But those too often force 
Against their nature's course. 


A lioness may be such 

A tame and winsome beast. 
That she may love her master much 
Or fear him at the least ; 
But if she taste of gore 
She will be tame no more : 

Let it not be thought 

That she will then be mild. 
But back to her old likings brought 
Be as her elders wild. 

In earnest break her chain 
And rave and roar amain ; 

Will first her keeper bite. 

And then all else beside. 
Cattle or men, each living wight. 
Will seize, whatever betide. 
All she can find will seize. 
Her ravening to appease. 

So the wood finches too 

Though timely tamed they be. 
If to the woods escaped anew 
Again they flutter free, 

However train'd and taught 
Their teachers then are nought ; 

But wilder evermore 

They will not leave the wood. 
Though by their trainers, as of yore. 
Enticed by tempting food ; 
So merry seem the trees 
That meats no more may please. 

All winsome then is found 

The wide weald soimding strong 
With other birds that sing around. 
And so, these find their song. 
Stunning one's ears with noise 
Of their woodland joys. 


Thus too, every tree. 

Grown high in its own soil. 
Though thou shalt bend its boughs to be 
Bow'd to the earth with toil. 
Let go, it upward flies 
At its free will to rise. 

Thus also, when the sun. 

Great candle of the world. 
After the mid-day down doth run 
To unknown darkness hurl'd. 
Again she brings to earth 
Bright mom's North Eastern birth. 

Upward, she ever goes. 

Up, to her highest place : 
So, every creature kindly grows 
According to its race. 

And strives with all its might 
To take its nature's right 

There is not now one thing 

Over this wide earth 
That doth not all its longings fling 
About its place of birth. 
And safely there find rest 
In God Almighty blest 

There is not one thing found 

Over this wide world 
But on itself with endless round 
It, like a wheel, is twirl'd. 
So turning to be seen 
As it before hath been : 

For, when at first it moves. 

Right round it turns amain ; 
And, where it once has gone, behoves 
To go that way again ; 
And, as it was before. 
To be so evermore. 



XIV. The Emptiness of Wealth. 

Quamyta fluente diTM anrl gu^te— — Non expleturu cogat ararut opea, 

Hw»t bith thsm welegaa 
On hit mode the bet, 
Theah he micel age 
Goldet andgimma, 
And gooda gehwca 
MhtA unrim, 

And him mon erigen icyle 
JEghwelce dsg, 
Acerathuiend ? 
Theah thes middan geard. 
And thii manna cyn, 
8j under aunnan, 


Suth west and east, 

HU anwalde eall 


Ne mot he thara hyrita 

Hiona ne Isdan. 

Of thiise worulde, 

Wuhte thon mare 


Thonne he hither brohte. 

Tha ae Wisdom tha thii lioth 
asunsen hcfde» tha ongan he eft 
apellian and cwsth. 



What is a man the better — 

A man of worldly mouldy 
Though he be gainful getter 

Of richest gems and gold. 
With every kind well filled 

Of goods in ripe array, 
And though for him be tilled 

A thousand fields a day ? 

Though all this middle earth be 

Beneath his wealdom thrown, 
And men and all their worth be 

South East and West his own. 
He cannot of such treasure 

Away with him take aught. 
Nor gain a greater measure 

Than in his mind he brought. 

Wisdom having sung this lay. 
Again began his spell to say, — 



XV. Nero's Baseness. 

QiumTls M Tyiio tupetbui oatio, Comeret, et nireii lapillb. 

Theah hine nu 

8e yfela uorihtwifa 

Neron cynincg, 


Wlitegam wsdum, i 


Golde ge^eni^e 

And gim-cynnuro ; 

Theah he w«t on worolde, 

Witenm gehwelcum, 10 

On hii lif-dagnm, 

Lath and unweorth, 


Hwaet Be feond swa thMh, 

His diorlingaa 15 

Duguthnm ttepte, 

Ne vamg ic theah gehycgan 

Hwy him on hlge thwfte, 

Athy isl weaan. 

Theah hi lume hwile 20 

Oecure butan crsftum, 

Cyning» dyt egait. 

N«ron hy thy weoithran 

Witena vnegum. 

Theah hine ae dytlgn S9 

Do to cyninge, 

Ha m«g th»t geacMdwb 

Scealc gereccan, 

Th»t he him thy aelsa 

Sieoththethincef M 

Though Nero now himself, that evil king 

Unrighteous, in his new and glittering robe 
Deck'd wonderfully for apparelling 
With gold and gems and many a brightsome thing, 
Seem'd to be greatest of this earthly globe. 
Yet to the wise man was he full of crime 
Loathly and worthless in his life's daytime : 
And though this fiend his darlings would reward 
With gifts of rank, my mind I cannot bring 
To see why he to such should grace afford : 
Yet if some whiles a foolish king or lord 

Will choose the simple all the wise above, 
A fool himself to be by fools ador'd. 

How should a wise man reckon on his love ? 

XVI. Op Self-rule. 

Qui M Tolet eiae potentem, ^Anhnos domet file t&tot^} 

8e the wille anwald agon, 

Thonne iceal he srest tilian 

Th«t he hii aelfes, 

On Mftin age, 

Anwald innan : 

Thy l«t hi mtf aie, 

Hii untheawum, 

Eall underthyded. 

Ado of hii mode 

MltUcra fela 

Thara ymbhogonm, 

The him unnet lie : 

Late aume hwile 


And enntha thinra. 

Theah him eaU aie, 

Thai middaa geard, 



Swa twa mere-atreamai 
Utan bellcgath, 
On sht gifen, 
£fne swa wide, 
Swa swa wesmeat nu, 
An iglond ligth, 
Ut on garsecg, 
Th«r nsngu bith 
Niht on sumera, 
Ne wuhte khon ma 
On wintra daeg 
Toteled tidum, 
Thaet is Tile haten ; 
Theah nu anra hwa 
Eallea wealde 
ThBi iglandea, 
Andaae thonaa 


Oth Indeai 95 Hit selfea geweaM 

Eute-wearde; Ingethancet, 

Theah he nu ihatt eall And hine eornette, 

Agan mote, Wei ne bewar«iiath, H 

Hwy bith his anwald Wordam and dsdum, 

Auhte thy man, 40 With tha untheawai, 

Oil he tiththan nah The we ymbsprecath ? 

He that wishes power to win. 

First must toil to rule his mind. 
That himself the slave to sin 

Selfish lust may never bind : 

Let him haste to put away 

All that fruitless heap of care : 
Cease awhile thy sighs to day. 

And thyself from sorrow spare. 

Though to him this middle earth 

For a garden all be given. 
With the seastream round its girth. 

East and west the width of heaven ; 

From that isle which lies outright 

Furthest in the Western spray. 
Where no summer sees a night. 

And no vdnter knows a day ; 

Though from this, far Thule's isle. 

Even to the Indian East, 
One should rule the world awhile 

With all might and power increased. 

How shall he seem great or strong 

If himself he cannot save 
Word and deed against all wrong. 

But to sin is still a slave ? 

XVII. True Greatness. 

Omne hominum genni in tenia SimlU lurfit ab oita : 

Tbmt eorthwaran And hi eac nu get 

Ealle hcfden, Ealle geliee 10 

Fold-baende On woruld eumath, 

Fniman gelicne ; Wlance and heaae. 

Hi of anum twaem, 5 Nil th»t nan wundor, 

Ealle comon, Fortluem nitan ealle 

Were and wife Th«t an God in 15 

On woruld innan ; Ealra geaceafta, 



Freft moncynnet, 
Feeder and sdppend. 
Be there tunnmn leoht 
Seleth of heofonum, 20 

Monan and thytum inerum 

S« getceop men on eorthan, 
And getainnade 
Sawle to lice. 

Mt fruroan erest. 25 

Pole under wolcnum 
Emn sthele gesceop, 
Aghwilcne mon. 
Hwy ge thonne cfre, 
Ofer othre men, SO 

Buton andweoTce, 
Nu K6 unstbelne 
Mnig ne metath f 
Hwy ge eow lor sthelum SS 
Up ahebben nn ? 
On th«m mode bith 

Monna gehwilcum 

Tha riht aethelo 

The ic the recce ymb ; 40 

Nalet on th«m l)«soe 


Ac nu eghwilc mon, 

The mid ealle bith 

His untheawum. 46 

Underthieded ; 

He forlat arett 

Lifet frum-sceaft, 

And hit agene 

Athelo twa lelfe ; 50 

And eac thone fsder, 

The hine «t framan gesceop. 

Forthsm hine ansthelath 

Almihtig Ood, 

Th«t he unsthele 55 

A forth thanan 

Wyrth on weomlde, 

Townldre ne eymth. 

All men and all women on earth 
Had first their beginning the same^ 

Into this world of their birth 
All of one couple they came : 

Alike are the great and the small ; 

No wonder that this should be thus ; 
For God is the Father of all. 

The lord and the maker of us. 

He giveth light to the sun. 

To the moon and the stars as they stand ; 
The soul and the flesh He made one. 

When first he made man in the land. 

Wellborn alike are all folk 

Whom He hath made under the sky ; 
Why then on others a yoke 

Now will ye be lifting on high ? 

And why be so causelessly proud. 
As thus ye find none are illbom ? 

Or why, for your rank, from the crowd 
Raise yourself up in such scorn ? 

In the mind of a man, not his make. 

In the earth-dweller's heart, not his rank. 

Is the nobleness whereof I spake; 
The true, and the free, and the frank. 


But he that to sin was in thrall^ 

Illdoing wherever he can. 
Hath left the first lifespring of all. 

His God, and his ratUc as a man : 

And so the Almighty down-hnrl'd 
The noble disgraced by his sin. 

Thenceforth to be mean in the world. 
And never more glory to win. 


Unless one were to forage about for parallel passages, or to 
descant upon Alfred's good philosophy as texts ; or to furnish 
tables of the words identical to both English and Anglo-Saxon, or 
to speculate upon the possibilities of metre, there really seems 
little reason to disturb the patient reader with many notes ; let 
him, instead, have the satisfaction of knowing that our verse is no 
loose paraphrase, but a close rendering, and that several of these 
metres seem to be analogous with the short and tripping lines of 
early minstrelsy. It will be remembered that the true ballad line 
(as in Macaulay*s Lays of Rome), though sometimes written long- 
wise, is in truth an eight-syllable stanza of short lines, and not a 
four-syllable of long ones : that great German epic, the Niebe- 
lungenlied (lately translated with uncommon ability and closeness 
by William Nanson Lettsom esq.) is an instance strictly in point: 
and further on (see Metre XXVIII) we have rendered Alfred in 
a similar measure. 

XVIII. Of Sinful Pleasure. 

Habet omnii hoc yoluptu, Stiroolii agit ftirentec, 


Eala thart le yfU, 

Unrlhta gedeth, 

Wrstha wUla 


Thct he mid ealle gedrsfth, 5 

Ann gehwylces 

Monna cynnes 

Mod fnlneah thon i 

Hwet sio wild beo, 

Theah wis Ri«, 10 

Anunga sceal, 

Eall fonreorthan, 
Gif hio yrrlnga 
Awuht stiogeth. 
8wa aceal aawla gehwile 
Siththan loaian, 
Gif ae lichoma 
Forlegan weortheth 
TJnriht>h»niede ; 
Bute him ax cume 
Hreow to beortan, 
^r hehionan wende. 



Alas that the evil unrighteous hot will 
Of lawlessly wanton desire should still 

Be a plague in the mind of each one ! 
The wild bee shall die in her stinging, tho' shrewd. 
So the soul will be lost if the body be lewd. 
Unless, ere it wend hence, the heart be imbued 

With grief for the deed it hath done. 

XIX. Where to find true joys. 

Bhmi, qium mitnot tnonito devio, Abdndt iffnonuitia I 

EaUthMtblMnf drslf. 

Hygcth jnbe m Um wito, 

And frecenlk, 

Ptn KehwUeum, 

Th»t thm Munuui mm 

If Id eaUe gwlwaeleth 

Of thmm rlhun wcft, 

Recene aUeded i 

Hwsther ge wUton 

On wuda Mcaa 

Gold tlist nad*, 

On grenum triowmn f 

le wat f wa theah, 

Th»t hit witena nan 

Thider ne aeceth ; 

Forthann hit thaer ne w«iUi, 

Ne on winfeardom 

Wlitlge gimmaa. 

Hwy ge nu ne lettan 

On nune dune t 

Fiac net eowm, 
Thonne eow fon lytteth 

Leax othtbe crperan 1 

Me geUcoet tblncth. 

Th«t te ealle witen, 



Th«t hi th»r ne lint. 

Hwsther ge nu willen 

Wsthan mid hundum 

On aealtne ue, 

Thonne eow lecan lyat 

HeoTotaa and hinda 

Thu gehycgan meaht 

Thaet ge vUlath tha 

On wudaaecan 

Oftor micle, 

Thonne ut on mb. 

Is thaet wundorlie 

Thaet we witan ealle 

Thaet mon Mean toeal 

Be sae-warothe, 

And be ea-ofram, 

Athele gimmaa, 

Hwite and reade, 

And hiwa gehwaes 1 

Hwct hi eac witon, 











Secan thurfan, 

And ■wrlcra felm 

Weonild-welena : 


OeornfuUe men, 

Oeara gehwile. 

Ac thaet is earmllooat 


Thaet tha dyaegan alnt 

On gedwolan wordene, 


Th»t hi on breottom ne magon 

Eathe gecnawan, 

Hw»r tha eean good, 

Sotha geiaeltha 

Sindon gehydda : 

Forthaem hi aefre ne lyat 65 

After tpyrian, 

Secan tha geaaeltha. 

Wenath tamwlse, 

Thaet hi on thia laenan magen 

Life findan 70 

Botha geaaeltha, 

Thaet la self a Ood. 

Ic nat hu ic maege 

Naenige thinga 

Ealle* twatwithe, 75 

On aefan minum, 

Hiora dytig taelan 

8wa hit me don lyiteth : 

Ne ic the awa aweotole 

Gesecgan ne maeg. 80 

Forthaem hig ■intearmran. 

And eac dyiegran, 


Thonne ic the lecgan nuege. 

Hi wilnUth 85 

Welan and aehta. 

And weorthscipea 

To gewinnanne ; 

Thonne hi habbath thaet 

Hiora hige teeeth, 90 

Wenath thonne, 

8wa gewitleaae, 

Thaet hi tha sothan 

Geaaeltha haebben. 

Oh ! it is a fault of weight. 

Let him think it out who will. 
And a danger passing great 
Which can thus alliu*e to ill 

Careworn men from the right way. 
Swiftly ever led astray. 


Will ye seek within the wood 

Red gold on the green-trees tall ? 
None, I wot, is wise that could. 
For it grows not there at all : 

Neither in winegardens green 
Seek they gems of glittering sheen. 

Would ye on some hill-top set. 
When ye list to catch a trout 
Or a carp, your fishing-net ? 

Men, methinks, have long found out 
That it would be foolish fare. 
For they know they are not there. 

In the salt sea can ye find. 

When ye list to start and hunt 
With your hounds, the hart or hind ? 
It will sooner be your wont 

In the woods to look, I wot. 
Than in seas where they are not. 

Is it wonderful to know 

That for crystals red or white 
One must to the sea-beach go. 
Or for other colours bright. 
Seeking by the river side 
Or the shore at ebb of tide ? 

Likewise, men are well aware 

Where to look for river-fish ; 
And all other worldly ware 

Where to seek them when they wish ; 
Wisely careful men will know 
Year by year to find them so. 

But of all things 'tis most sad 

That they foolish are so blind. 
So besotted and so mad 

That they cannot surely find 

Where the ever-good is nigh 
And true pleasures hidden lie. 


Therefore, never is their strife 

After those true joys to spur ; 
In this lean and little life 
They half witted deeply err, 

Seekmg here theh^ bliss to gain. 
That is, God Himself, in vain. 

Ah ! I know not in my thought 

How enough to blame their sin. 
Nor so clearly as I ought 
Can I show their fault within ; 

For, more bad and vain ai-e they 
And more sad than I can say. 

All their hope is to acquire 

Worship, goods, and worldly weal ; 
When they have their mind's desire. 
Then such witless Joy they feel. 
That in folly they believe 
Those True joys they then receive. 

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs, of thistles ? " Alfred 
is of the Wise Teacher's school : and bids us seek the chief good 
beyond this evil world. 

XX. Op God and His Creatures. 

O qui perpetua mandum ntione gubenuw,— Tcnarum coeliqu« Mtor, qui tempus tb mro 

Eala min DrOiten I Mftrthum ^fraege, 

Thct thu Mit aelBiihtig, And wundwlic, i 

Micel modlUc, WiCena scbwylcum I 



Hwaet thu ece God I 

Ealra gescealta 


Wei gesceope, 10 


And eac swa same, 

Gesewenlicn ; 

Softe wealdest 

Scirra gesceafto, 15 

Mid gesceadwitum 

Maegne and cnefte. 

Thu thyine middan geard 

From fruman asrett, 

Forth othende, 20 

Tidum todaeldei, 

Swa hit getaesoit wan 

Endebyides : 

Thast hi «ghw»tber 

Ge arf arath 25 

Ge eftcumath. 

Thu the unstilla 

Agna getceafta 

To thinum willan 

Wialice aatyrett, SO 

And the aelf wun«at 

Swithe ttiUe, 


A forth aimle I 

Nia nan mihtigra, 35 

Ne nan msrra, 

Ne geond ealle tha geacealt, 

Efnlica thin. 

Ne theaenig ned-thearlaaet 

Mtre giet ealia 40 

Than weorca. 

The thu geworht haf^t ; 

Ac mid thinum willan 

Thu hit worhtea eall. 

And mid anwalde 45 

Thinum agenum, 

Weorulde geworhteat. 

And wuhta gehwaet ; 

Theah the naenegu 

Ned-thearf waere eallxa 50 

Thara msrtha I 

It thaet micel gecynd 

Thinea goodea ; 

Thencth ymb ae the wile : 

Forthon hit ia eall an 55 

Mlcet thincgea, 

Thu and thaet thin good ; 

Hit ia thin agen, 

Forthcm hit nia utan, 

Ne com auht to the. €0 

Ac ic georne wat, 

Thaet thin goodnea ia 

Almihtig good, 

Eall mid the aelfum. 

Hit ia ungelic €5 

Unun gecynde : 

T7a ia utan cymen 

Eall the we habhath 

Gooda on grandum, 

From Gode aelfum. 70 

Ncft thu to aenegum 

Andan genumenne, 

Fortham the nan thing nia 


Ne huru aenig 75 


Forthaem thu eal good, 

Anea getheahte, 

Thinea gethohteat. 

And hi tha worhteat. 80 

Nna mtor the 

iEnegu geaeeaft, 

The auht oththe nauht 

Auther worhte. 

Ac thu butan byane, 85 

Brego moncynnea, 

JEl aelmihtig God, 

Eall geworhteet 

Thing tbearle good ; 

Eart the aelfa 90 

Thaet hehate good f 

Hw«t thu haug teder, 

MtUft thinum willan, 

Woruld geaceope, 

Thiane middan geard, 95 

Mcahtum thinum. 

Weorada Drihten, 

Swa thu woldeat aelf: 

And mid thinum willan 

Wealdeat eallea I 100 

Fortham thu aotha God, 

Selfa d«lest 

Gooda nghwilc ; 

Fortham thu geara aer, 

Ealle geaceafta 105 

MTfi geaceope, 

Swithe gelSce, 

Sumea hwaathre theah 

Ungelice ; 

Nemdeat eaU awa theah 110 

Mid ane noman, 

Ealle togaedere, 

Woruld under wolcnum. 

Hwat thu wuldrea God I 

Thone anne naman 1 15 

Eft todaeldea, 

Fsder, onfeower: 

Waea thara lolde an. 

And water other, 

WoTulde dalea, 120 

And fyr ia thridde. 

And feowerthe lyft ; 

That ia eall weoruld 

Eft togaedere. 

Habbath theah tha feower 125 

Frum-atol hiora; 

JBhgwUc hiora 

Agenne atede : 

Theah anra hwUc 

With other aie ISO 

Miclum gemenged ; 

And mid magne eac 

Feeder almihtigei 

Faate gebund«n» 

GeaibUce, 1S5 

Softe togaedere. 

Mid bebode thine, 


That te heora anig 

Othrea ne dorate 140 

Meare ofergangan. 

For metodea ege ; 

Ac gethweorod aint 

Thegnaa tc^adere, 

Cyningea cempan. 145 

Cele with hato, 

Wat with drygum, 

Winnalh hwathre. 

Water and eorthe 

Waatmaa brengath ; 150 

Tha aint on gecynde 

Cealda ba twa. 

Water wat and oeald, 

Wangaa ymbe-licgath. 

Eorthe a1 greno 155 

Eac hwathre ceald lyft 

la gemenffed, 

Fortham hio on nodddum wunath 

Nia thaet nan wundor 

Thaet hio aie wearm and ceald 100 

Wat wolcnea tier 

Winde geblonden ; 

Fortham hio ia on midle. 

Mine gefrage, 

Fyrea and eorthan . 165 

Felamonna wat 

That te yfemeat It 

Eallra geaceafta 

Fyr ofer eorthan, 

Folde neothemest. 170 

la thaet wundorlie, 

Weroda Drihten I 

That thu mid getheahte 

Thinum wyrceat ; 

Thaet thu thaem geaeeaftum 175 

Swa geaoeadlice 

Mearce geaetteat. 

And hi ne mengdeat eac 

Hwat thu thaem wattere 

Watum and cealdum, 180 

Foldan to flore 

Faate geaetteat ; 

Fortham hit unatOle, 

Aghwider wolde 

Wide toscrithan, IM 

Wae and hneace ; 



Ne meahte hit on him •elfoin. 

Both ic geare wst 

JEfre gettandan : 

Ac hit sio eorthe 190 

Hilt and swelgeth eac. 

Be sumum daele, 

That hio tiththan maeg, 

For thaem sype weorthan 

Geleht lyftum. 195 

Forthaem Iftaf and gaen, 

Braed geond Bretene, 

Bloweth and groweth, 

Eldom to are. 

Eorthe sio cealde 200 

Brength waestma fela, 


Forthaem hio mid thaem waetere 

Weoithath gethawened. 

Oif thaet nare, 206 

Thonne hio ware 

Fordrugod to dutte, 

And todiifen siththan 

Wide mid winde ; 

Swa nu weorthath oft 210 

Axe giond eorthan 

Eall tobUwen. 

Ne meahte on thaere eorthan 

Awuht libban, 

Ne wuhte thon ma 215 

Waetres brucan, 


Mnigt craefte, 

For cele anum : 

Gif thu, cyning engla, 220 

With fyre hw«t-hwugu. 

Foldan and lagu-iream 

Ne mengdett togcdere ; 

And gemetgodest 

Cele and hato 225 

Craef te thine, 

Thaet thaet fyr ne maeg 

Foldan and mere-etream 

Blate forbflDraan, 

Theah hit with ba twa sie 230 

Fstte gefeged ; 

Fsder eald geweore. 

Ne thincth me that wundur 

Wuhte the laue, 

Th«t thios eorthe maeg, 235 

And egor-stream, 

Swa ceald gesceaft, 

Craefta nane, 

Eallee adwascan 

Thnt thaet him on innan sticath 

Fyres, gefeged 241 

Mid frean craefte. 

Thet it agen crsft 


Wstres and eorthan, 245 

And on wolcnum eac. 

And efne swa same 

Uppe ofer rodere. 

Thonne is th«r fyres 

Frum-stol on riht 250 

Eard ofer eallum 

Othrum gesceaftum 


Geond thiane sidan gnind ; 

Theah hit with eaUe sie 255 


Weoruldgesceafta : 

Theah waldan ne mot, 

Thaet hit aenige 

Eallunga fordo 290 

Bttton thaes leafe, 

TheusthisUf tiode: 

Thaet is se eca, 

And se aelmihtiga. 

Eorthe is hefigre 265 

Othrum gesce^tum, 

Thicre gethruen : 

Forthaem hio thrage stod 

Ealra gesceafta 

Under nithemaest, 270 

Buton thaem rodere, 

The thaa ruman gesceaft 

Aghwylce daege, 

Utan TmhwTrusth, 

And theah tluere eorthan 275 

JRtn ne othrineth ; 

Ne hire on nanre ne mot 

Near thonne on othxe 

Stowe gestaeppan. 

Striceth ymbutan 280 

Ufane and neothane, 

Efen neah gehwaether. 

iEghwilc gesceaft, 

The we ymb aprecath, 

Haefth his agenne 285 

Eard on sundran, 

Bith theah with thaem othrum 

Eac gemenged. 

Ne maeg hira aenig 

Butan othrum bion. 290 

Theah hi unsweotole 

Somod eardien ; 

Swa nu eorthe and waeter 

Earf od tsecne, 

Unwisra gehweem, ^5 

Wuniath on fyre ; 

Theah hi sint an 

Sweotole thaem wisum. 

Is thaet fvr swa same 

Faeat on thaem waetre, 300 

And on stanum eac 

Still e geheded : 

Earfoth hawe ii. 

Hwaethre thaer hafath 

Faeder engia 805 

Fyr gebunden 

Efne to thon faeste, 

Thaet hit flolan ne maeg 

Eft aet his ethle, 

Thaer thaet other fyr 310 

Up ofer eaU this 

Eard faest wunath. 

Bona hit forlaeteth 

Thas laenan gesceaft, 

Blid cele ofercumen, 115 

Gif hit on cyththe gewit ; 

And theah wuhta gehwilc 

Wilnath thider-weard, 

Thaer his maegthe bith 

Maest aetgaedre. 320 

Thu gestatholadest, 

Thurn tha strongan meaht, 

Weroda wuldor cyning 1 


Eorthan swa faeste, 325 

Thaet hio on aenige 

Healfe ne heldeth, 

Ne maeg hio hider ne thider 

Sigan the swithor 

The hio symle dyde. 330 

Hwaet hi theah eorthllcet 

Auht ne heldeth, 

Is theah efn ethe 

Up and of dune, 

To feallanne 135 

Foldan thisse ; 
Thaem anlicost. 
The on eege bith 

Gioleca on middan, 

Glideth hwaethre 840 

JEg ymbutan. 

Swa stent eall weoruld 

StiUe on tiUe. 

Strearoas ymbutan, 

Lagu-floda gelao. 345 

Lyfte and tungla. 

And sio scire scell, 

Scritheth vmbutan, 

Dogora gehwilc, 

Dyde l^ge swa. 350 

Hwaet thu thioda God, 

Thriefalde on us 

Sawle gesettest. 

And hi siththan eac 

Styrest and tihtest, 855 

Thurh tha strongan meaht ; 

Thaet hire thy laesse 

On thaem lytlan ne bith 

Anum fingre. 

The hire on eallum bith 360 

Thaem liohoman, 

Forthaem ic lytle aer, 

Sweotole saede, 

ThKt sio lawl waere 



Thriefald getcealt, 865 

Thegna gehwilces : 

Forthsm uthwiun 

EaUe teggath, 

Tluet te an gec3md 

^cre saule 170 

Ynung waere, 

Other wilnung ; 

It tio thridde gecynd 

Tfaaem twaem betere, 

Sio gesceadwisnet. 175 

Nis tha«t icandUc craeft, 

Fortbaem hit naenig hafath, 

Neat buton monnum. 

Haefth tha othra twa 

Unrim wuhta. S80 

Haefth tha wilnunga 

Wei hwilc neten. 

And tha ynunga 

Eac swaselfe. 

Foithy men habbath S85 

Geond middan geard, 


Ealle oferthungen ; 

Forthsm the hi habbath 

Thss the hi nabbath, 390 

Thone snne craeft 

The we mi nemdon. 

Sio gesceadwisnea 

Sceal on gehwelcum 

Thaere wUnunge 395 

Waldan lemle, 

And inunge 

Eac swa telfe. 

Hio tceal mid getheahte, 

Thegnes mode, 400 

Mid andgite 

Eallet tnddan 

Hio is thet m»ste m«egen 

Monnee saule, 

And se selesU 405 

SundoT cnefta 

Hwaet thu tha saule, 

Sigora waldend, 

Theoda thrym-cyning, 

Thus gesceope, 410 

Thaet hio hwearfode 

On hire selite. 

Hire utan ymb, 

Swa swa eal deth 

Rine swlfte rodor : 415 

Recene ymbscritheth 

Dogora gehwilce, 

Drihtnes meahtum 

Thisne middan geard : 

Swa deth monnes saul, 420 

Hweole gelicost, 

Hwaerfeth )'mbe by selfe, 

Oft smeagende 

Ymb thas eorthlican 

Drihtnes gesceafta, 425 

Dagum and nihtum. 

HwOum hi selfe 

Secende smeath 

Hwilum eft smeath 

Ymb thone ecan Ood, 430 

Sceppend hire ; 

Scrithende faerth 

Hweole gelicost, 

Hwaerfth ymb hi selfe. 

Thonne hio ymb hire scyppend 435 

Mid gescead smeath, 

Hio bith upahaefen 

Ofer hi selfe ; 

Ac hio bith eallunga 

An hire selfre 440 

Thonne hio 3rmb hi selfe 

Secende smeath. 

Hio bith swithe flor 

Hire selfre beneothan, 

Thonne hio thaes lenan 445 

Lufath and wundrath 

Eorthlicu thing, 

Ofer ecne raed. 

Hwaet thu ece God, 

Eard forgeafe 4S0 

Saulum on heofonum ; 

Selest weorthlica 

OinfaesU gifa. 

God simlhtig ! 

Be ge eamunga 455 

Anra gehwelcre. 

Ealle hi scinath 

Thurh tha sdran neaht 

Hadre on heofenum ; 

Na hwjBthre theah 460 

Ealle efenbeoihte. 

Hwaet we oft gesioth 

Hadrum nihtum, 

Thaet te heofon-steorran 

Ealle ffenbeorhte, 465 

JRtn ne scinath. 

Hwaet thu ece God, 

Eac gemengest 

Tha heofoncundan 

Hither with eorthan ; 470 

Saula with lice 

Siththan wuniath : 

This eorthlice 

And that ece samod, 

Saul in flasce. 475 

Hwat hi simle to the 

Hiona fundiath. 

Fortham hi hider of the 

JRnr eomon ; 

Sculon eft to the. 480 

Sceal se lichama 

Last weardigan 

Eft 00 eorthan, 

Fortham he ar of hire 

Weoz on weorulde. 485 

Wunedon at somne 

Efen swa lange 

Swa him lyfed was 

From tham almihtigan, 

The hi aror glo 490 


That is Both cyning, 

Se thas foldan gesceop, 

And hi gifylde tha 

Swithe mislicum 495 

Mine gefrage, 

Neata cynnum, 

Nergend user. 

He hi siththan asiow 

Sada monegum 500 

Wuda and wyrta, 

Weorulde sceatum. 

Forgil nu ece God, 

Urum modum. 

That hi moten to the, 505 

Metod alwuhta, 

Thurh thas earfothu 


And of thisum bysegum. 

Bile wit fader, 510 

Theoda waldend, 

To the cuman ; 

And thonne mid openum 

Eagum moten 

Modes ures, 515 

Thurh thinra magna sped, 

JEirelm gesion 

Eallra gooda ; 

That thu eart selfa, 

SigeDrihtenGod! 520 

Ge tha eagan hal 

Ures modes. 

That we hi on the ielfum 

Siththan moten 

Afastnian. 525 

Fader engla I 

Todrif thone thiccan mist, 

The thrage nu 

With tha eagan foran 

Usses modes 530 

Hangode hwyle, 

Hefig and thystre. 

Onliht nu tha eagan 

Usses modes 

Mid thinum leohte, 535 

Lifes waldend ; 

Fortham thu eart sio birhtu, 
Bilewit fader, 

Sothes leohtes : 

And thu selfa eart 540 

Sio faste raest, 

Fader almihtig I 



Ealln sothfaettra, 

Hwaet thu softe gedett, 

Thaet hi the telfne 54ff 

Gesion moten. 

Tha eait eallra things, 

Theoda waldend 1 

Fruma and ende. 

Hwaet thu, fieder engla, 550 

Eall thing bireit 


Baton geswinoe. 
Thu eart selfa weg, 
And latteow eac, 
Lifgendm gehwaet ; 
And lio wlitige stow 
These weg to ligth. 
The ealle to 
A fundiath. 
Men of moldan 
On tha maran geaoeaf 1 1 


O thou, my Lord Almighty, great and wise, 
Wellseen for mighty works, and marvellous 
To every mind that knows thee. Ever Grood ! 
Wondrously well all creatures Thou hast made. 
Unseen of us or seen ; with softest band 
Of skilful strength thy brighter beings leading. 
Thou from its birth forth onward to its end 
This middle earth by times hast measured out 
As was most fit ; that orderly they go 
And eftsoon come again. Thou wisely stirrest 
To thine own will thy changing unstill creatures. 
Unchangeable and still thyself for ever ! 
No one is mightier, greater than Thou art. 
No one was made thine equal : need was none. 
Of all these works which thou hast wrought, to T 
But, at the willing of thy power, the world 
And everything within it didst thou make. 
Without all need to Thee of such great works. 
Great is thy goodness, — think it out who will ; 
For it is all of one, in everything. 
Thou and Thy good ; thine own ; not from with 
Neither did any goodness come to Thee : 
But, well I know, thy goodness is Most Good 
All with thyself : unlike to us in kind ; 
To us, from outwardly, from God himself. 
Came all we have of good in this low earth. 
Thou canst not envy any ; since to Thee 
Nothing is like, nor any higher skilled ; 
For thou. All good, of thine own thought didst t 
And then that thought didst work. Before Thee 
Was bom, to make or unmake anything. 
But Thou without a model madest all. 
Lord God of men, Almighty, very good. 


Being thyself of all the Highest good ! 

Thou, Holy Father, thou, the Lord of hosts. 

After thy will, and by thy power alone. 

The world, this midway garden, didst create ; 

And by thy will, as now thy wisdom would, 

Wieldest it all ! For thou, O God of truth. 

Long time of old didst deal out all good things. 

Making thy creatures mainly well alike. 

Yet not alike in all ways ; and didst name 

With one name all together all things here, 

'' The World under the clouds." Yet, God of glory. 

That one name. Father, thou didst turn to four : 

The first, this Earth-field ; and the second, water ; 

Shares of the world : third, fire, and fourth, air : 

This is again the whole world all together. 

Yet have these four each one his stead and stool. 

Each hath its place ; tho' much with other mixt ; 

Fast by thy might. Almighty Father, bound. 

Biding at peace, and softly well together 

By thy behest, kind Father ! so that none 

Durst overstep its mark, for fear of Thee, 

But willing thanes and warriors of their King 

Live well together, howsoever strive 

The wet with dry, the chilly with the hot. 

Water and Earth, both cold in kind, breed fruits : 

Water lies wet and cold around the field. 

With the green earth is mingled the cold air. 

Dwelling in middle place : it is no wonder 

That it be warm and cold, blent by the winds. 

This wide wet tier of clouds ; for, in my judgment. 

Air hath a midway place, 'twixt earth and fire : 

All know that fire is uppermost of all 

Over this earth, and ground is nethermost. 

Yet is this wonderful, O Lord of Hosts, 

Which by thy thought thou workest, that distinctly 

Thou to thy creatures settest mark and bound 

And dost not mingle them : the wet cold water 

Thou fixest it the fast earth for a floor , 

For that itself, unstill and weak and soft 

Alone would widely wander everywhere, 

E*»ayt 28 


Nor (well I wot it sooth) could ever stand. 

But the earth holds^ and swills it in some sort, 

That through such sipping it may afterward 

Moisten the aery-lift : then leaves and grass 

Yond o'er the breadth of Britain blow and grow. 

Its praise of old. The cold earth bringeth fruits 

More marvellously forth, when it is thawed 

And wetted by the water : if not so. 

Then were it dried to dust, and driven away 

Wide by the winds ; as often ashes now 

Over the earth are blown : nor might on earth 

Aught live, nor any wight by any craft 

Brook the cold water, neither dwell therein. 

If thou, O King of Angels, otherwhile 

Mingledst not soil and stream with fire together ; 

And didst not craftwise mete out cold and heat 

So that the fire may never fiercely bum 

Earth and the sea stream, though fast linked with both. 

The Father's work of old. Nor is methinks 

This wonder aught the less, that earth and sea. 

Cold creatures both, can by no skill put out 

The* fire that in them sticks, f ixt by the Lord. 

Such is the proper use of the salt seas 

Of earth and water and the wolkin eke. 

And even of the upper skies above. 

There, is of right the primal place of fire ; 

Its birth-right over all things else we see 

Throughout the varied deep, tho' mixt with all 

Things of this world, it cannot over one 

Rise to such height as to destroy it quite. 

But hy His leave who shaped out life to us. 

The Everliving and Almighty One. 

Earth is more heavy and more thickly pack'd 
Than other things ; for that it long hath stood 
Of all the nethermost : saving the sky 
Which daily wafteth round this roomy world. 
Yet never whirleth it away, nor can 
Get nearer anjrwhere than everywhere. 
Striking it round-about, above, below. 


With even nearness wheresoe'er it be. 

Each creature that we speak of hath his place 

Own and asunder, yet is mixt with all. 

No one of them may be without the rest. 

Though dwelling all together mixedly : 

As now the earth and water dwell in fire, 

A thing to the unlearned hard to teach. 

But to the wise right clear : and in same sort 

Fire is fast fixt in water, and in stones 

Still hidden away and fixt, tho' hard to find. 

Yet thitherward the Father of angels hath 

So fastly bound up fire, that it may 

Never again get back to its own home 

Where over all this earth sure dwells the fire. 

Soon would it leave this lean world, overcome 

Of cold, if to its kith on high it went ; 

Yet everything is yearning thitherward 

Where its own kindred bide the most together. 

Thou hast established, thro' thy strong might, 
O glorious king of hosts, right wondrously 
The earth so fast, that it on either half 
Heeleth not over, nor can stronger lean 
Hither or thither, than it ever did. 
Since nothing earthly holds it, to this globe 
Twere easy up or down to fall aside, 
Likest to this, that in an egg the yolk 
Bides in the middle, tho' the egg glides round. 
So all the world still standeth on its stead 
Among the streams, the meeting of the floods : 
The lift and stars and the clear shell of heaven 
Sail daily round it, as they long have done. 

Moreover, God of people, thou hast set 
A threefold soul in us, and afterward 
Stirrest and quick'nest it with thy^strong might 
So that there bideth not the less thereof 
In a little finger than in all the body. 
Therefore a little before I clearly said 
That the soul is a threefold workmanship 


In every man : because the wise all say 
That ire is one whole part in every soul. 
Another, lust ; another and the third 
Far better than these twain, wise-mindedness : 
This is no sorry craft ; for only man 
Hath this, and not the cattle : the other two 
Things out of number have as well as we ; 
For ire and lust each beast hath of itself. 
Therefore have men, thro'out this middle sphere 
Surpassed Earth's creatures all ; for that they have 
What these have not, the one good craft we named. 
Wisemindedness in each should govern lust 
And ire, and its own self ; in every man 
With thought and understanding ruling him. 
This is the mightiest mainstay of man's soul. 
The one best mark to sunder it from beasts. 

Thou mighty king of peoples, glorious Lord, 
Didst fashion thUs the soul, that it should turn 
Itself around itself, as in swift race 
Doth all the firmament, which quickly twirls 
Every day around this middle sphere. 
By the Lord's might : so doth the soul of man 
Likest a wheel whirl round about itself. 
Oft-times keen searching out by day and night 
About these earthly creatures of the Lord : 
Somewhile herself she probes with prying eye : 
Somewhile again she asks about her God 
The Ever One, her Maker ; going round 
Likest a wheel, whirling around herself. 
When she about her Maker heedful asks. 
She is upheaved above her lower self : 
She altogether in herself abides 
When, seeking round, she pries about herself : 
But furthest falls beneath herself, when she 
With love and wonder searcheth out this earth. 
With its lean lusts, above the lore for ever I 

Yea, more; Thou,Evergood! to souls in heaven 
Givest an heritage. Almighty God, 


And worthiest lasting gifts, as each hath earned. 
They thro' the moonlit night shine calm in heaven ; 
Yet are not all of even brightness there. 
So oft we see the stars of heaven by night 
They shine not ever all of even brightness. 

Moreover, Ever-Good ! thou minglest here 
Heavenly things with Earthly, soul with flesh : 
Afterwards soul and flesh both Uve together 
Earthly with heavenly : ever hence they strive 
Upward to thee, because they came from thee. 
And yet again they all shall go to thee ! 
This living body yet once more on earth 
Shall keep its ward, f or-that it theretofore 
Wax'din the world: they dwelt (this body and soul) 
So long together as to them gave leave 
The Almighty, who had made them one before ; 
That is in sooth the King ! who made this world 
And fiird it mixedly with kinds of cattle. 
Our saviour and near helper, as I trow. 
Thence he with many seeds of woods and worts 
Stock'd it in all the corners of the world. 
Forgive now. Ever Good ! and give to us 
That in our minds we may upsoar to thee. 
Maker of all things, thro' these troublous ways ; 
And from amidst these busy things of life, 
O tender Father, Wielder of the world. 
Come unto Thee, and then thro' thy good speed 
With the mind's eyes well opened well may see 
The welling spring of Good, that Good, Thyself, 
O Lord, the God of Glory ! — Then make whole 
The eyes of our understandings, so that we. 
Father of angels, fasten them on Thee ! ' 

Drive away this thick mist, which long while now 
Hath hung before our mind's eyes,heavy and dark. 
Enlighten now these mind's eyes with thy light. 
Master of life ; for thou, O tender Father, 
Art very brightness of true light thyself ; 
Thyself Almighty Father, the sure rest 
Of all thy fast and true ones ; winningly 



Thou orderest it that they may see Thyself. 
Thou art of all things origin and end, 
O Lord of all men ; Father of angels, thou 
Easily bearest all things without toil. 
Thou art thyself the way and leader too. 
Of every one that lives, and the pure place 
That the way leads to : all men from this soil 
Throughout the breadth of being, yearn to Thee. 

Alfred here expands twenty-eight lines of Bocthius into a magni- 
ficent psalm, worthy of the Christian poet and philosopher. In 
all this, how strangely in advance, not only of his own age, but 
positively of ours ! Religion and learning, poetical expression, and 
pure moral feeling, — every excellence is here : — we will not 

To gild refined gold, to paint the lily. 
Or add a perfume to the violet. 

Let Alfred, through our earnestly attempted faithfulness, 
speak for himself. The translation is literal. 

XXL Of inward light. 

Hue omnet pariter veiiite etpti, Quot fallAx Ugat impiobU catenif 

Wei U monna bearn, 

Geond middan geard ! 

Friora sghwilc 

Fundie to tham 

Ecum gode, 

The we yrnb sprecath ; 

And to ihmm gesaelthum, 

The we tecgath ymb. 

Se the thonne nu sie 

Nearwe g<?he(ted 

Mid thiaies maran 

Middan geardes 

Unnyttre lufe, 

8ece him eft hrnthe 

Fulne friodoro, 

That be forth cume 

To thaem gesslthum, 

Saula raedes. 

Forthsra th»t if alo ana rest 

Eallza geiwinca, SO 



HyhtUcu hyth 
Heaum ceolum 
Modes usees ; 
Mere smylta wic ; 
Thaet is sio ana hyth 
The sefre bith, 
After tham jrthum 
Ura geswinca, 
Ysta gehwelcre, 
Ealnig smylte. 
Thset U sio fhth-stow, 
And sio frofor ana 
Eallra yrminga, 
After thissum 
Weoruld-geswincttm . 
Thset is wynsum stow, 
After thissum yrmthum. 
To aganne. 
Ac ic geome wat. 
That te gylden mathm, 





Sylofren sine, 

Stan-tearo gimin« nan, 

Middengeardes wela, 

Modes eagan 

JEfre ne onlyhtath, 45 

Auht ne gebetath 

Hiora tcearpnesse, 

To thaere sceawunga 

Bothra getaeltha. 

Ac hi twithor get, ftO 

Monna gehwelcea 

Modes eagan, 

Ablendath on breostum, 

Thonne hi hi beorhtran gedon. 

Forthsem sghwilc thing 55 

The on this andweardan 

Life licath, 

Laenu sindon 

Eorthlicu tiling, 

A fleondu. 60 

Ac thset is wundorlic 

Wlite and beorhtnes, 

The wuhta gehwaes 

Wlite geberhteth. 

And aefterthflem, 65 

Eallum waldeth. 

Kele se waldend 

1 haet (orweorthan icylen 

Saula usse ; 

Ac he hi selfa wile 70 

Leoman onlihtan, 

Lifes waldend 1 

Gif thonne hseretha hwilc, 

Hlutrum eagum 

Modes sines mmg 75 

JEfre oftion 

Hiofones leohtes 

Hlutre beolhto, 

Thonne wile be secgan, 

Thset thaere sunnan tie 60 
. Beorhtnes thiostro, 

Beonu gehwylcum, 

To metanne 

With thaet micle leoht 

Godes aelmihtiges, 85 

ThKt is gasta gehwsem, 

£ce batan ende, 

Eadegum saulum I 

Well, — O ye chUdren of men in mid earth ! 

Every freeman should seek till he find 
That, which I spake of, good endless in worth ; 

These, which I sing of, the joys of the mind. 

Let him who is narrow'd and prison'd away 
By love of this middle earth empty and vain. 

Seek out for himself full freedom today. 

That soul feeding joys he may quickly attain. 

For, such of all toil is the only one goal. 
For sea-weary keels hythe-haven from woes. 

The great quiet dwelling that harbours the soul 
Still calm in the storm, and from strife a repose. 

That is the peace-place, and comfort alone 
Of all that are harm'd by the troubles of life, 

A place very pleasant and winsome to own 
After this turmoil of sorrow and strife. 

But right well I wot that no treasure of gold 
Nor borders of gemstone, nor silvery store. 

Nor all of earth's wealth the mind's sight can unfold 
Or better its sharpness true joys to explore : 

But rather, make blind in the breast of each man 
The eyes of his mind than make ever more bright. 

For, sorry and fleeting as fast as they can 
Are all who in this flitting earth can delight 


Yet wondrous the beauty and brightness is seen 
Of that which hath brighten'd and beautified all 

So long as on this middle earth they have been. 
And afterward happily holds them in thrall. 

For the Ruler he wills not that soul should be nought. 
Himself will enlighten it Lord of life given ! 

If any man then with the eyes of his thought 

May see tlie clear brightness of light from high heaven, 

Then will he say that the blaze of the sun 

Is darkness itself to the glory so bright 
Which Great God Almighty shines out on each one 

Of souls of the happy for ever in light 

Scarcely a single word of Alfred is to be f oundin Boethius : and 
the ode is in fact an independent poem. It is charming to take note 
how constantly our Christian King is looking forward to his heaven- 
ly inheritance. To the writer it has been true and deep delight thus 
to fill the mind with the pure philosophy of Alfred, and then to let 
his homiUes flow out into these new shapes : as it were, gold, melted 
anew in an earthen crucible, and poured out into the popular moulds 
of modern metres. May this work be in its measure for good ! 
Alfred, in his free paraphrase of the more Horatian Boethius, and in 
the very few other fragments that remain to us of that first rate 
Head and Heart, is so full of Christian wisdom, moral beauty, 
excellent learning, piety, and power, that some small service 
cannot but be done to Good and Truth, by the publication of 
these Metres. 

XXII. Op the inner mind, and the outer sin. 

QuisquU profonda mtnte yettigat Terum, — Cupitque nulUi ille devlit (km. 

8e the aefter riht« 8ws deopUce, 

Mid gence, Th»t hit todrilsii ae mmg 

Wllle inweardilM Monnarnig ; 

Affmspniaa, Nei 



JBnig eorthlk thinq^ ; 

He srett tceal 

8ee«n on him selfttm, 

Th«t he suiiM hwile 

Ymbutan hine 


8ece thiet siththan 

On his sefan innan ; 

And forlcte an, 

8wa he oftott mege, 

^Icne ymbhogan 

Thy him unnet aie ; 

And getamnige, 

8wa he twithott maege, 

Ealle to them anum, 

Hie ingethonc. 

Geteece his mod. 

That hit m»g findan, 

Eall on him innan, 

That hit of tost nu, 

Ymbutan hit 

Ealn^ seceth, • 

Gooda iFghwylc. 

He ongit siththan 

Tfel and unnet, 

Eal that he hafde 

On his ineofan, 


Efne swa sweotole, 

8wa he on tha sunnan mag 

Eaffum andweardum 


And hi eac onglt 

His ingethonc 

Leohtre and berhtre, 

Thonne se leoma sie 

Sunnan on sumexa, 

Thonne swegles gtm, 

Hador heofon-tungol, 

Hlutroet scineth. 

Fortham thas lichoman 

Leahtras and hefignea 

And tha untheawas, 

Ealiunga ne magon 

Of mode ation 

Monna anegum, 


Theab nu rinea hwam, 

Thas lichoman, 

Leahtras and heflgnes 

And untheawas 


Monna mod-aefan, 

Mast and swithoit 

Mid thare jflan 

Ofoigiotolnesse ; 

Mid gedwol-miste 

Dreorigne sefan 

Fortith mod foran 

Monna gehwelces. 

That hft swa beohte ne mot 






Blican and sdnan, 


Hit geweald ahte. 

Theah Uth sum com 

Sades gehealden 

Symle on thare sanle 


Thenden gadertang wunath 

Cast on lice. 

Thas sades corn 

Bith simle awoaht 

Mid ascunga, 

Eac siththan. 

Mid goodre lare, 

Gif hit growan sceal. 

Hu mag anig man 

Andsware findan 

Thinga aniges, 

Thegen mid gMceade, 

Theah hine rlnca hwilo 


JEfter fHgne, 


On his mod-eefin, 

Myeles ne lytles 


Ne geradscipesf 

Nis theah anig maa 

That te ealles swa 

Thas geradscipes 

8wa bereafod sie, 

That he andsware 

JEnige ne cunne 

Findan on ferhthe, 

Gif he frugnen bith. 

Fortham hit is riht speU, 

That us leahte gio, 

Eald uthwito 

Ure Platon ; 

He ewath that te SBghwile 



Hine hrathe soeolde 

Eft gewendaa 

Into sinum 

Modes gemyni 

- r sithtl 




He mag a 

On his run-cofsa 


Findan on feriite, 

Paste gehydde 

Mid gedrafnetae 

Dogora gehwiloe, 

Modes Mnes, 

Mast and swithott; 

And mid hefineiie 

His lichoman; 

And mid tham blagnm. 

The on breostum styreth 

Mon on mode 

Mala gehwyke. 









The man that after right with care 

Will inwardly and deeply dive. 
So that none earthly thing may scare 

Nor him from such good seeking drive. 

First in himself he shall find out 

That which beyond he somewhile sought. 

Within his mind must search about 

And leave behind each troublous thought ; 

Eauiya 29 


This at the soonest^ as he may« 

Such care were harm to him and sin ; 

Then let him haste and hide away 
To this alone^ his Mind within. 

Say to this mind^ that it may find 
What oftest now it seeks around^ 

All in^ and to^ itself assigned 
Every good that can be found ; 

He then will see that all he had . 

In his mind's chamber thought and done. 
Was evil long afore and bad. 

Clearly as he can see the sun : 

But his own mind he shall see there 
Lighter and brighter than the ray 

Of heaven's star, the gem of air. 
The sun in clearest summer day. 

For that the body's lusts and crimes 

And all its heaviness in kind 
Utterly may not any times 

Wipe out right wisdom from man's mind : 

Though now in every man such wrong. 
Those lusts and crimes and fleshly weight. 

Worry the mind both loud and strong 
And make it half forget its state. 

And though the mist of lies may shade 
Man's dreary thought that it be duU 

And be no more so bright array'd 
An if 'twere pure and powerful. 

Yet always is some seed-corn held 
Of sturdy truth within the soul. 

While flesh and ghost together weld. 
And make onefixtandgather'd whole. 

This seed*com waxes evermore. 
By much asking quickened so. 

As well as by good wholesome lore. 
That it quickly learns to grow.. 


How may a man right answer find 

To anything ask'd well and fit. 
Unless he keenly store his mind 

That it have much or little wit ? 

Yet is there no man so bereaved 

Of knowledge, that he cannot bring 
Some answer well to be received 

If he be ask'd of anything. 

Wherefore it is a spell of right 

Which our own Plato, long of old. 
That ancient wise and worthy wight. 

To all of us most truly told ; 

He said, that each who wisdom sought. 

Forgetful, should to Memory turn. 
And in the coffer of his thought 

Right-wisdom hidden would discern. 

Through all the drift of trouble there. 

And all this body's heavy clay. 
And busy toil, and daily care 

Which stir the breasts of men alway. 

Alfred here, more in the wake of Boethius, becomes a Platonist, 
rather than a Christian. It is an old Antinomian contrivance to 
separate the soul from the deeds done in the body : but it will 
not do : body and soul are mated so together that each is respon- 
sible for the other. However, there are some great truths here 
hinted at: "haeret profecto semen introrsiun veri/* conscience is 
never quite extinguished; there are ruins of good even in the 

The writer considers it almost an unfair advantage thus to 
annotate his own work, and therefore he often abstains from 
much that might be added in illustration : but, almost in self 
defence, he requests the reader not to imagine that Alfred is mis- 
interpreted or added to, even in such an expression as 'Hhe coffer 
of his thought," — ^the original is run-cofan — ^thus also, " Right- 
wisdom " is rihtwisnesse : and so, with many other like words. 


XXIIL True Happiness. 

Felix qui potuit boni Fontem Tiwiv lucidum : 

8ie th»t la on eoxthan M»g aweoipan ! 

^Ices thingea We tculon tneah gite, 

Geselig mon, Mid Godet fylste, 

Gif he getioa mage Ealdum and leaenm 15 

Thone hlntreetan ft Thinne ingethone 

Heofon-torhtan stream, Betan bitpellam ; 

Alhelne ewelm Thaet thu the bet m»ge 

JRlcf goodee ! Aredian to'ndoram 

And of him lelfum Rihte stigc ; 20 

Thone sweartan mitt, 10 On thone ecan eard 

Modet thioetro Usta laola. 

Look ! for on earth a happy man 

In everything is he. 
Who Heaven's shining river can 

Grood's highborn well-spring see ; 
And of himself may scatter back 
His mind's own mist of swarthy black. 

By God's good help, we will as yet 

With spells of olden leaven 
Inform thy mind that thou mayest get 

To read the way to heaven ; 
The right way to that happy shore 
Our soul's own country evermore. 

This is but a very small portion of the ode of Boethius, which 
details the story of Orpheus and Eurydice ; Alfred has translated 
it, and probably into metre : but it is not given, as such, in Fox's 
Boethius. We may here mention, that Alfred has omitted to 
metricize several little bits of Boethius : — ^but there is, after all, 
considerable difficulty in deciding where, in such Ossianic measures, 
prose ends and verse begins. " Ealdum and leasum bispellum " 
are " the spells of olden leaven," which perhaps were intentionaUy 
omitted. — 

XXIV. The Soul's Heritage. 

Bunt etenim pennn volucres mlhi, Qujb celsa conicendant poll: 

Ic h«bbe fithra Heofonee thiieef. 

Fuffle ewiftran, Ac thaer ic na moete, 

If id tham Ic fleogan m»g Mod, gefetbran 

Feor fram eorthan, Thinne ferth-locan, 

Ofer heaae hrof 5 Fetbium miaiim. 10 


Oththst thu meahte 

Thisne middan geard, 

JElc eorthlic thing, 

EaUunga fonion. 

Meahtes ofer rodomm 19 


Fetberum lacan ; 

Peor up ofer 

Wolcnu windan, 

Wlitan siththan ufan 20 

Ofer ealle. 

Meahtet eac faian 

Ofer thaem fyre, 

The (ela geara for 

Lange betweox 85 

Lyfte and rodere ; 

8wa him set frymthe, 

Feeder getiode. 

Tbu meahtest the ilththan, 

Mid thsre aunnan, SO 

Faran betweox 

Othrum tunglam. 

Meahtest the full recen. 

On thaem rodere ufan, 

Siththan weorthan ; 85 

And thonne aamtenget 

JEt thaem ael-cealdan, 

Anum steorran, 

8e Tfmest is 

EaUra tungU ; 40 

Thone Satumus 

Sund-buende hatath 

Under heofonum. 

He is se cealda 

Eall isig tungel, 45 

Yfemest wandrath, 

Ofer eallum ufan 

Othrum steorrum. 

Siththan thu thonne 

Thone upahafast, 50 

Forth ofer-farenne, 

Thu meaht feorsiMi. 

Thonne bist tbu siththan 

Sona ofer uppan 

Rodere ryne swiftnm. 55 

Oif thu riht faereat, 

Thu thone hehstan heofon 

Behindan Istst. 

Thonne meaht thu siththe 

Sotbes leohtes 60 

Habban thinne dsl. 

Thonan an cynlng 

Rume ricsath, 

Ofer mderum up ; 

And under swa same, 65 

Eallra gesceaf ta 

Weorulde waldeth. 

Thaet is wis cjming, 

Thaet is se the waldeth, 

Giond wer'thioda, 70 


Eorthan cyninga. 

Se mid his bridle, 

Trobe baeted haefth 

Ymbhwyrft ealne 75 

Eorthan and heofonei. 

He his gewald-lether 

Wei gemetgath, 

Se storeth a, 

Thurh tha strongan^meaht, 80 

Thaem hrsdwaene 

Heofones and eorthan. 

Se an dema is, 


Unawendendlic, 85 

Wlitig and maere. 

Glf thu wyrfst on 

Wege rihtum, 

Up to thaem earde, 

Thaet is aethele stow, 90 

Theah thu hi nn geta 

Forgiten haebbe. 

Gif thu aefye 

Eft tb«r an crmest, 

Thonne wilt thu secgan, 95 

And sona cwethan. 

This is eallunga 

Min agen C3rth, 

Eard and ethel. 

Ic waes aer hionan 100 

Cumen and acenned, 

Thurh thisses craeftgan meaht. 

Nylle ic aefre hionan 

Ut wiUn : 

Acics3rmleher, 105 

Softe wille, 

Mid faeder wlllan, 

Faeste stondan. 

Gif the thonne aefre 

Eft geweortheth, HO 

Thaet thu wilt oththe moat, 

Weorolde thiostro. 

Eft fandian, 

Thu meaht eathe geiion 

Unrihtwise 115 

Eorthan cyningas, 

And tha ofermodan 

Othre rican, 

The this werige folc 

Wyrst tuciath ; ISO 

Thaet he symle Moth 

Swithe earme, 


^.Ices thlngea ; 

Emne tha ilcan, 125 

The this earme folc, 

Sume hwile nu, 

Swithost ondredeth. 

I have wings like a bird, and more swiftly can fly 
Far over this earth to the roof of the sky. 
And now must I feather thy fancies, O mind. 
To leave the mid earth and its earthlings behind. 

Stretch'd over the heavens, thou mayst with thy wings 
Sport in the clouds and look down on all things. 
Yea, far above Fire, that lieth betwixt 
The air and the sky, as the Father hath mixt. 

Thence with the sim to the stars thou shalt fly. 
Thereafter full quickly to float thro' the sky 
To the lonely cold planet, which sea-dwellers call 
Saturn, on heaven the highest of all. 


He IS the icy cold star in the highest 
That wanders the farthest, and yet as thou fliest 
Higher, and farther, and up shalt thou rise 
Yea, to the top of the swift rushing skies ! 

If thou dost rightly, e'en these shalt thou leave : 
And then of the true light thy share shalt receive. 
Where up over heaven, the Only King reigns. 
And under it all the world's being sustains. 

This, the Wise King, this is He who is found 
To rule o'er the kings of all peoples around ; 
With his bridle hath bitted the heaven and earth. 
And guides the swift wain by his might driven forth. 

He is the One Judge imswervingly right. 
Unchanging in might and unsullied in light ; 
When to his dwelling place back thou dost roam. 
However forgotten, it still is thy home. 

If ever again thou shalt thitherward go. 

Soon wilt thou say, and be sure it is so, 

" This k mine own country in every way, 

" The earth of my birth, and my heirdom for aye : 

" Hence was I born, and came forth in my time 
" Thro' the might of my Maker, the Artist sublime, 
" Nor will I go out evermore but stand fast, 
" At the will of my Father come hither at last." 

And if it should aye be again that thou wilt 
Come back to the world in its darkness and guilt. 
Thou shalt easily see of these kings and these proud 
Who worst have down-trodden this woeridden crowd. 

That they too are wretched and woefully poor 
Unmighty to do anything anymore. 
These, ay even these, beneath whose dread yoke 
Now somewhile are trembling this woeridden folk. 

There is a good deal both of the poetic rapture and the philoso- 



phic judgment in this ode : and Boethius, though enlarged upon, 
is pretty closely followed : 

Hue te si reducem referat via^ 

Quam none reqairis inimemor, 
Uddc, dices, memini patria est mibi : 
HiQC ortas hie sistam gradam. &e« 
However, all the Godliness of the poem is exclusively Alfred's : 
Boethius continually forgets the Christian in the philosopher. 

XXV. Op Evil Kings. 

QuM Tldet tedeie celao Solli culmine reget. 

G«her na an spell 

Be thflem ofermodam 


Eorthan cjmingum : 

Tha her nu manegum 

And misUcum 

W»dum wlite-beortatum 

Wundrum tcinath ; 

On heah-eetlum, 

Hrofe getenge : 

Golde gegerede, 

And guncynnum ; 

Utan ymbestandne 

Mid unrime 

Thegna and eorla, 

Tha bioth gehyrste 

Mid here-geatwum, 

HUde torhtum ; 

Sweordum and fetelum 


And thegniath 

Thrymme myele 

iElc othram ; 

And hi ealle him. 

Thonan mid thy thxymme 

Threatiath gehwider, 



And se hlaford ne scrlfth, 

The them here waldeth, 

Freonde ne feonde, 

Feore ne aehtum ; 

Ac he rethig-rood, 

Rsflt on gehwilene, 

Rethe hunde 

Wuhta gelicoet. 


Inne on mode, 

For them anwalde. 

The him anra gehwHc 


To fultemath. 

Gif mon thonne wolde 

Him awindui of 

Thes cyne-gerelum,— 

Clatha gehwilene, — 

And him thonne oftion 

Than thegnunga. 

And theea anwaldes, 

The he her hefde ; 

Thonne meaht thu geeion 

Thaet he bith swithe gelic 

Sumum thara gumena. 

The him geomoat nu 

Mid thegnungum 

Thringath ymbe utan. 

Gif hi wyraa ne bith, 

Ne wene ic his na beteran. 

Gif him thonne sfre» 


Weaa geberede, 

Thst him wurde oftogen 

Thrymmet and wssda. 




And thegnunga, 

And thss anwaldes 65 

The we ymbe spreeath ; 

Gif him enig thara 

Ofhende wyrth, 

Ic wat thset him thinevth 

Thst he thonne sie 70 

Becropen on carcem, 

Oththe cothlice 

Racentan gereped. 

Ic geteccan msg» 

Thst of ungemete 75 

JEleen thinges, 

Wiste and wsdat 


And of swet-metann, 

Swithostweaxath 10 

Thsne wrsnnesse 

Wod-thrag micel, 

Sio swithe gedrefth 

Sefan ingehygd 

Monna gehwelcea : 85 

Thonan msst cymeth 

Yfla ofermeta, 

Unnetta saca. 

Thonne hi gebolgene weorthath 

Him wyrth on breostum inne 90 

Beswungen sefa on hrethre 

Mid them swithan welme 

Hat-heortnesse ; 

And hrethe siththan* 

Unrotnesee 95 

Eac gereepeth, 

Hearde gehefled. 

Him siththan onginth 

Bum tohopa 

Swithe leogan. 100 

Thes gewinnes wrece 

Wilnath thet Irre 

Anes and othres. 

Him thsBt eall gehset 

His recelest, 105 

Rihtes ne scrifeth, 

Ic the sede er 

On thisse sellan bee, 

Thet sumes goodes 

Sidra gesceaf ta, 110 

An lepra elc 

A wilnode, 

For his agenum 

Eald-gecynde . 

Unrihtwise 115 

Eorthan cyningas 

Ne magon efre thurlitlon 

Awuht goodes, 

For them yfle, 

The ic the er sede. ISO 

Nis thet nan wandor, 

Forthem hi wUUth hi. 

Them untheawum. 

The ic the er nemde, 

Anra gehwelcum, 115 

A undertheodan. 



Sceal thonne nede 
Neanre gebugan^ 
To than hlalorda. 
Hsfte dome, 
The he hine eallunga 
JRi underthiodde. 
Theet is vyne get, 
Thst he winium nyle 
Wid thnm anwalde, 



JEnige stunde. 

Thaer be wolde i 

Winnan onginnan. 

And thonne on thaem gewinne, 

Thurhwunian ford 140 

Thonne naefde he 

Nane scylde ; 

Theah he oferwunnen 

Weorthan sceolde. 

Hear now a spell of the proud overbearing 

Kings of the earth, when unrighteous in mind : 
Wondrously bright tho' the weeds they are wearing. 

High tho' the seats where their pomp is enshrin'd, 
Goldclad and gemm'd and with hundreds roundstanding 

Thanes and great earls with their chain and their swo 
AH of them chieftains in battle commanding. 

Each in his rank doing suit to his lord : 

While in such splendour each rules like a savage. 

Every where threatning the people with strife, 
Lo, this lord heeds not, but leaves them to ravage 

Friends for their riches and foes for their life ! 
Ay, and himself, like a hound that is madden'd. 

Flies at and tears his poor people for sport. 
In his fierce mind too loftily gladden'd 

With the proud power his chieftains support 

But, from his robes if a man should unwind him. 

Stripped of such coverings kingly and gay. 
Drive all his following thanes from behind him. 

And let his glory be taken away ; 
Then should ye see that he likens most truly 

Any of these who so slavishly throng 
Round him with homage demurely and duly. 

Neither more right than the rest, nor more wrong. 

If then to him it should chance in an hoiu' 

All his bright weeds from his back be offstripped. 
All that we speak of, his pomp and his power. 

Glories unravell'd and garments imripp*d, — 
If these were shredded away, I am thinking. 

That it would seem to him surely as though 
He to a prison had crept, and was linking 

All that he had to the fetters of woe. 


Rightly I reckon that measureless pleasure. 

Eating and drinking and sweetmeats and clothes. 
Breed the mad waxing of lust by bad leisure 

Wrecking the mind where such wickedness grows : 
Thence cometh evil, and proud overbearing ; 

Quarrels and troubles arise from such sin. 
When in the breast hotheartness is tearing 

With its fierce lashes the soul that's within. 

Afterward, sorrow imprisons and chains him ; 

Then does he hope, but his hope is a lie : 
Then again, wrath against somebody pains him. 

Till he has recklessly doom'd him to die. 
In this same book before I was speaking. 

Everything living is wishing some good 
But the bad kings of the earth, who are wreaking 

Nothing but ill, as is fitting they should. 

That is no wonder, for slaves very willing 

Are they to sins, — as I told thee before, — 
And to those lords whose chains they are Hlling 

Straitly and strictly must bend evermore : 
This is yet worse, they will not be winning 

Standing-room even against such ill might ; 
Still, if they will, they struggle unsinning, 

Tho' they should seem overthrown in the fight. 

A striking picture of a tyrannical lord paramount surrounded 
by his feudal barons and princes. It is an old l^nd in the life 
of Alfred that he began his reign rather too roughly^ insomuch 
that St Neot rebuked him for harshness : whereupon the king 
repented : in this view it is a fine trait to see the great monarch 
in the zenith of his power utterly denoundng evil kings : it is 
like David's penitence : a witness, indeed, af^ainst his past sin, but 
far more strenuously testifying his present holiness. 



XXVI. Of Circe and her company. 

Vela NeritU dudi, Et vagaa peUgo ratta 

le tlie mmg Mthe. 

Ealdum and leasum 

Spellnm and reocan 

Sprcce gelicne 

Efne thiase Ucan, S 

The wit ymspreeath. 

Hit gesaelde gio, 

On same tide, 

Thaet Aulixee 

Under-b«fde 10 


Cvne-rieu twa. 

He waes Thracia 

Thioda aldor; 

And Retie 15 

Rices hirde. 

Waes his ftea-drihtnes 

Folc-cuth nama 

Agamemnon ; 

8e eallei weeld 20 

Creca rices. 

Cuth wss wide. 

Th»t on tha tide, 

Trotana gewin 

Wearth under wolcnam. 2S 

For wiges-heaid, 

Creca drihten, 

Camp-sted secan. 

AuUxes mid 

An bund scipa SO 

Laedde ofer lagu-streamr 

8aet longe th»r,— 

Tni winter full. 

Tha sio tid geIomp» 

ThiBt hi thaet rice 35 

Oerasht hasfdon, 

Diore geoepte 

Drihten Creca, 


Tilum getithum ; 40 

Tha tha Aulixes 

Leafe haefde, 

Thracia cyning, 

Thaet he thonan moate. 

He let him behiadan, 45 

Hymde dolas^ 

Nigon and hand nigontig. 

Naenige thonan 


Ma thonne aenne, 50 

Ferede on llfel stream, 

Famig>bordon ; 

Thrierethre ceol ; 

Thaet bith thaet maeste 

Creciecra scipa. 56 

Tha wearth ceald weder, 

Stearo-atorma gelac : 

Stunede sio brane 

Yth with othre, 

Ut feor adrsf 60 

On wendel-ssB, 

Wigendra scola. 

Up on thaet igland, 

Th«r ApoUinea 

Dohtor wanode, 65 


W«s se Apollinua 

Athelei cynnei, 

lobes eaXora, 

8e waes gio cyning i 70 


Litlum and mielam, 

Oamena gehwylcam, 

Thaet he Ood w«re, 

Hehst and halmst. 75 


ThKt dyaige folc 



On gedwolan laedde, 

Oththaet him gelyfde 

Leoda anrim ; 8# 

Forthaem he waes mid rihte 

Rices hirde, 

Hiora cyne-cynnes. 

Cuth is wide 

Thaet on tha tide, 85 

Theeda aegbwilc haeldon 

Herera hlaford 

For thone hehstan God ; 

And weorthodon, 

8wa swa wuldres cyning ; 90 

Gil he to thaem rice waes 

On rihte boren . 

Waes thaes lobes faeder 

Ood eac swa he. 

Satumus thone U& 


Heton haeletha beam : 

Uaefdon tha maegtha, 

Mlcne aefter othrum. 

For ecne God. 100 

Bceolde eac wesan 


Doothr dior-boren, 

Dysiges folces. 

Gum-rinca gyden ; 105 

Cuthe galdra fela 

Drifan drycneftas. 

Hio gedwolan fylgde 

Manna swithost, 

Manegra thioda. 

Cvninges dohtor 

sio Circe w«s 

Haten for herigum, 

Ulo ricsode 

On th»m iglonde. 

The Aulixes 

Cyning Thracia, 

Com ane to 

Ceole lithan. 

Cuth waes sona 120 

Eallre thaere maenige 

The hire mid wunode, 

Atheifaiges sith. 

Hio mid ungemete 

Lissum Intode 1 25 


And he eac swa same, 

Ealle msgne, 

Efne swa s withe, 

Hi on sefan lufode ; 130 

Thaet he to his earde 

iBnige nyste 

Modes mynlan, 

Ofer maegth giunge ; 

Ac he mfd thaem wife 135 

Wunode siththan ; 

Oththaet him ne meahte 

Monna aenig 

Thegna sinra 

Thaer mid wesan ; 140 

Ac hi for thaem yrmthum 

Eardes lytte, 

Mynton forlaetan 

Lrof ne hlaford. 

Tha ongunnlon wercan 145 

Wer-theoda spell ; 

Saedon thaet hio sceolde. 

Mid hire scinlace. 

Beomas forbredan ; 

And mid balo-craeftum 150 

Wrsthum weorpan. 

On wUdra lie 

Cyninges thegnas : 

Cyspan siththan, 



And mid raoentaa eae, 19ft 

Rcpan msnigne. 

Same hi to wulfum wurdou, 

Ne meahton tbonne word forth- 

bringan : 
Ac hio thrag-maelum 
Thioton ongunnon. I GO 

Same wsron eaforu, 
A grymetedon, 
Thonne hi sares hwKt 
Siofian scioldon. 

Tha the Icon waeron 165 

Ongunnon lathlice 
Ynenga r^an, 
Thonne hi sceoldon 
Clipian for corthre. 
Cnihtas wurdon, 179 

Ealde ge giunge, 
Ealle forhwerfde 
To Bumum diore, 
Swelcum be aeror, 
On hi* lif-dagum, 1 7ft 

Gelicott wees ; 
Butan tham cvninge, 
The sio cwen fufode. 
Nolde thara othra, 
^nigonbitan 180 

Menniaces metes ; 
Ac hi ma lufedon 
Diora drohuth, 
Swa hit gedefe nr wan. 
Naefdon hi nuMre 18ft 

Monnum gelices, 
Thonne ingethone 
Hsefde anra gehwylc 
His agen mod ; 190 

Theet waes theah swithe 
Sorgum gebunden, 
For thaem earfothum 
The him onaaeton. 
H wset tha dy segan men , I Oft 

The thyaum drycraeftum 

Long lyfdon 

Leasum spellnm, 

Wiaaon hwaethre, 

Thaet thaet gewit ne m«g SOO 

Mod onwendan, — 

Monna aenig 

Mid drycraeftum : 

Theah hio ffedon meahte 

Thaet tha llchoman 20ft 


Onwend wurdon. 

la thaet wundoriic 

Maegen craeft micel, 

Moda gehwilces SIO 

Ofer llchoman 

Laenne and aaenne ! 

Swylcuro and awylcum, 

Thu meaht aweotole ongitan, 

Thaet thaea lichomaa 315 

Liataa and craeftas, 

Of thaem mode cumath 

Monna gehwylcmn» 


Thu meaht eathe engitan ISO 

Thaet te ma dereth 

Monna gehwylcum 

Modea untheaw, 

Thonne mettrymnea 

Laenea lichoman. Sift 

Me thearf leoda nan 

Wenan th«re wyrde, 

Th»t th»t werlge flaeac 

Thaet mod 

Monna sniges, S30 

Eallunga to him 

Mtrt maeg onwendan ; 

Ac tha untheawaa 

iBlcea modes. 

And thaet ingethone SSft 

ilElcea monnea, 

Thone lichoman lit 


From old and leasing spells right easily 

Can I to thee tell out a tale like that 

Whereof we lately spake. — It chanced of yore 

That, on a time, Ulysses held two kingdoms 

Under his Caesar : he was prince of Thrace, 

And ruled Neritia as its shepherd king. 

His head-lord's folk-known name was Agamemnon 

Who wielded all the greatness of the Greeks. 

At that time did betide the Trojan war 

Under the clouds well known : the warrior chief. 

Lord of the Greeks, went forth to seek the battle. 

Ulysses with him led an hundred ships 

Over the sea, and sat ten winters there. 

When the time happened that this Grecian lord 

With his brave peers had overthrown that kingdom 

The dear-bought burgh of Troy, — Ulysses then 

The king of Thracia, when his lord gave leave 

That he might hie him thence, he left behind 

Of all his hom'd sea-keels ninety and nine. 


Thence, none of those sea horses, saving one, 
Travell'd with foamy sides the fearful sea ; 
Save one, a keel with threefold banks of oars. 
Greatest of Grecian ships. Then was cold weather, 
A gathering of stark storms ; against each other 
Stunn'd the brown billows, and out-drove afar 
On the Mid-winding sea the shoal of warriors. 
Up to that island, where, unnumbered days. 
The daughter of Apollo wont to dwell. 

This same Apollo was of highborn kin. 
Offspring of Jove, who was a king of yore. 
He schemed so, as to seem to every one. 
Little and great, that he must be a God, 
Highest and hohest ! So the silly folk 
This lord did lead thro' lying ways, until 
An untold flock of men believed in him : 
For that he was with right the kingdom's chief 
And of their kingly kin. ' Well is it known 
That in those times each people held its lord 
As for the God most high, and worshipp'd him 
For King of Glory, — if with right of rule 
He to the kingdom of his rule was bom. 
The father of this Jove was also a God, 
Even as he ; him the sea-dwellers call 
Saturn : the sons of men counted these kin 
One after other as the ever Good ! 
Thus also would Apollo's high bom daughter 
Be held a goddess by the senseless folk. 
Known for her druid-craft, and witcheries. 
Most of all other men she followed lies ; 
And this king's-daughter, Circe was she hight, 
Circe for Church, as having many with her. 
She ruled this isle, whereto the Thracian king 
Ulysses, with one ship, happened to sail. 
Soon was it known, to all the many there 
That dwelt with her, the coming of the prince , 
She without measure loved this sailor-chief. 
And he alike with all his soul loved her. 
So that he knew not any love more deep 
Even of home, than as he loved this maiden ; 


But lived with her for wife long afterward ; 

Until not one of all his thanes would stay. 

But, full of anguish for their country's love. 

They meant to leave behind their well loved lord. 

Then on the men she 'gan to work her spells ; 

They said, she should by those her sorceries 

Make the men prone like beasts : and savagely 

Into the bodies of wild beasts she warp'd 

By baleful craft the followers of the King. 

Then did she tie them up, and bind with chains. 

Some were as wolves ; and might not then bring forth 

A word of speech ; but now and then would howl. 

Some were as boars ; and grunted ever and aye. 

When they should sigh a whit for sorest grief. 

They that were lions, loathly would begin 

To roar with rage when they would call their comrades 

The knights, both old and young, into some beast 

Were chang'd as each aforetime was most like 

In his life' s day : but only not the king. 

Whom the queen loved : the others, none would bite 

The meat of men, but loved the haunt of beasts. 

As was ill fitting ; they to men earth-dwellers 

Had no more likeness left than their own thought. 

Each still had his own mind, tho' straitly bound 

With sorrow for the toils that him beset. 

For e'en the f ooUsh men who long believed 

Thro' leasing spells in all this druidcraft. 

Knew natheless that no man might change the wit. 

Or mind, by such bad craft : tho' they might make 

That for long while the bodies should be changed. 

Wonderful is that great and mighty art 
Of every mind above, the mean dull body. 
By such and such things thou may est clearly know 
That from the niind come one by one to each 
And every man his body's lusts and powers. 
Easily mayst thou see that every man 
Is by his wickedness of mind more harm'd 
Than by the weakness of his failing body. 
Nor need a man ween ever such weird-chance. 
As that the wearisome and wicked flesh 



Could change to it the mind of any man. 

But the bad lusts of each mind, and the thought 

Of each man, lead his body where they will. 

A few things require a word or two of comment in this poem. 
" The tale whereof we lately spake," in Alfred's original intro- 
duction, probably was that of Orpheus and Eurydice, omitted as 
unmetrical from our 23rd metre. A Caesar, a Kaisar, or perhaps 
a Czar, (tsar in Persian) means to a Northman a headman, or king 
paramount, as was Agamemnon. ' Rices-herden' may fairly be 
rendered shepherd king : so also ' hymde ciolas,' horned keels ; 
or, as we should less literally put it, beaked prows. The Fifel- 
stream, is probably the archipelago : as the Wendel-sae, or winding 
sea, is the Mediterranean. Take notice how clearly Alfred deduces 
idolatry from king and hero worship : not a word of all this whole- 
some homilizing occurs in Boethius. He calls sorceries, 'dry craeftas* 
druidcrafts. He plays upon the word Circe, — which also means 
in Anglo-Saxon a kirk or church, as accounting for her many 
followers. Cnihtas is here rendered knights ; which may not be 
strictly accurate ; it is something like making a Childe, a child ; 
however it conveys the sense as well as the sound better than * men* 
or ' followers.' How finely Alfred drains the moral of these false 
enchantments, and asserts the mind's supremacy. 

XXVII. Of Tolerance. 

Quid Uuitos Juvat excitare motus, £t propria fatum sollicitare manu f 

Hwy ge sfre scylen 
Eower mod drefan, 
8wa awa mere flodei 
Ytha hrerath 
Wecggath for winder 
Hwy othwite ge 
Wyrde eowre, 
Thaet hio geweald nafath f 
Hwy ge thss deathes 
The eow Drihten gesceop 
Gebidan ne magon, 
Bitres gecyndes ; 
Nu he eow aelce daeg 
Onet toweard f 
Ke magon ge geaion 
Th«t he symle spyreth 
Mfier aeghwelcum 
Eortban tudre, 
Diorum and fuglum f 
Death eac twa same 


^fter mon-cynne, 

Geond thisne roiddan geard, 

Egeilic hunta ! 

Abit on wathe. 

Nyle he snig i weth 

^fre forlstan, 

^r he gehede 

Thst he hwile sr SO 

iEfter spyrede. 

Is thaet earmiic thing, 

Thaet his gebidan ne magon 

Burg-sittende ; 

Ungesslige men 

Hine sr willath 

Foran tosciotan. 

8wa swa f ugla cyn, 

Oththe wildu dior, 

Tha winnath betwuh, 

^ghwylc wolde 

Other acwellan. 

Ac thaet is unriht, 

^ghwelcum men, 




Thst he otheroe, 43 Thiet Is thaet be luflge 

Inwit-thoncum, Godra gehwilcne, 

Fioge on fsrthe, 8wa he geornost msge ; 

8wa swa fugl oththe dior. Mildsige yflum, 

Ac thst weere rihtost. Swa we [eer] sprccon. 60 

Thst te rinca gehwylc 50 He sceal thone monnan 

Othnim guide Mode luflan, 

Edlean on riht. And his untheawas 

Weorc be geweorhtum Ealle hatian, 

Weomld-buendum^ And ofsnithan, 05 

Thinga gehwilces : 55 Swa he swithost msge. 

Why ever your mind will ye trouble with hate. 
As the icy-cold sea when it rears 
Its billows waked-up by the wind ? 
Why make such an out-cry against your weird fate. 
That she cannot keep you from fears, 
Nor save you from sorrows assign'd ? 

Why cannot ye now the due bitterness bide 
Of death, (as the Lord hath decreed,) 
That hurries to-you-ward each day ? 
Now can ye not see him still tracking beside 
Each thing that is bom of earth's breed. 
The birds and the beasts, as ye may ? 

Death also for man in like manner tracks out. 
Dread hunter ! this middle earth through, 
And bites as he runs evermore ; 
He will not forsake, when he searches about. 
His prey, till he catches it too 

And finds what he sought for before. 

A sad thing it is, if we cannot await 
His bidding, poor burghers of earth. 

But wilfully strive with him still ; [hate 

Like birds or wild beasts, when they haste in their 
To rage with each other in wrath 
And wrestle to quell and to kill. 

But he that would hate in the deep of his heart 
Another, unrighteous is he. 

And worse than a bird or a beast ; 
But blest is the man who would freely impart 
To a brother, whoever he be. 

Full worth for his work at the least : 



That is, he should love all the good at his best. 
And tenderly think of the bad. 
As we have spoken before ; 
The Man he should love with his soul — for the rest 
His sins he should hate, and be glad 
To see them cut off evermore. 

A beautiful improvement and enlargment upon the 12 lines of 
Boethius : who however ends with a very fair apothegm, 

Dilige jure bonos, et miseresce mails : 
yet, how much better is Alfred*s truly Christian sentiment. Hate 
the sin, but love the sinner ! 

XXVIII. Of Heavenly Wonders. 

Si quia Aroturi sidera nencU Propinqua sumino cardine Ial>i« 

Hwa is on eorthan nu 


The ne wundiige 

Wolcna faereldes, 

Rodres iwifto, 5 

Ryne tunglo ; 

Hu hy sice daege 

Utan ymbhwerieth 

Eallne middan geard t 

Hwa is mon-cynnes, 10 

Ttaaet ne wundric ymb 

Thas wlitegan tungl ; 

Hu by sutne habbath 

Swithe micle 

Scyrtran vmbehwearft; 15 

Sume Bcrithath leng 

UUn ymb eall this! 

An thara tungia 

Woruld-nien hatath 

Wsnes thisla. 20 

Tha habbath scyrtran 

Scrithe and fsreld, 

Ymbhwerft liessan 

Thonne othru tungl ; 

Forthsem hi thiere eaze 25 

Utan ymbhvrerfeth, 

Thonne north-ende 

Nean ymbceneth. 

On thiere ilcan 

Eaxe hwerfeth 30 

Ball ruma rodor ; 

Recene scritheth. 

Suth-heald swifeth 

Swift untiorig. 

Hwa is on worulde, 85 

Th«t ne wafige, 

Buton tha ane, 

The hit mr wisson, 

Thaet maenig tangul 

Maran ymbhwyrft 40 

Hafath on heofonum ; 

Sume hwile eft, 

Laesse gelithatb, 

Tha the lacath ymb eaxe ende. 

Oththe micle mare 45 

Geferath tha hire mid ore, 

Ymbe thearle thregeth. 

Thara is gehaten 

Satumus sum, 

Be h«fth ymb thrlftig 50 

Winter- gerimes 

Weoruld ymbcyrred. 

Bootes eac 

Beorhte scineth, 

Other Bteorra cymeth 55 

EIne swa same, 

On thone ilcan atede, 

Eft ymb thritlg 


Thaer hi gio tha wsa. 00 

Hwa is weoruld-monna, 

Th«t ne wafige 

Hu sume steorran 

Oth tha see farath, 

Under mere-streamas 65 

Thses the roonnum thincth f 

Swa eac sume wenath, 

Thset sio suime do. 

Ac se wena nis 

Wuhte the sothra. 70 

Ne bitb hio on »fen, 

Ne on er-morgen, 

Mere-streame tha near, 

The on midne da»g ; 

And theah monnum thyncth, 75 

Thaet hio on mere gange, 

Under se swife, 

Thonne hio on setl gUdetli. 

Hwa Id on weorulde, 

Thaet ne wundrige 80 

Fulles monan, 

Thonne he fsringa 

Wyrth under wolcnum 


Betheaht mid thiostrum r 85 

Hwa thegna ne msge 

Eac wafian 

Alces stiorran f 

Hwy hi ne scinen 

Scirum wederum 00 

Befora thaere sunnan, 

Swa hi symle doth 

Middel nihtum. 

With thone monan foran, 

Hadrum heofone f 05 

Hw«t nu haeletha fela 



Swelcet and swelces 

S withe wundnth ; 

And ne wundriath 

TbsBt to wuhta gehwilc, 100 

Men and netenu, 

Micelne habbath 

And unnetne 

Andan betweoh him, 

S withe singalne r 105 

la thst sellic thincg 

Thet hi ne wundriath 

Hu hit on wolcnum oft 

Hearle thunxath ; 

Hrag-maelum eft 110 

Anforlsteth f 

And eac ftwa lame, 

Yth with laude 

Ealneg winneth ; 

Wind with w«ge. ltd 

Hwa wundrath th»s f 

Oththe othres eft, 

Hwy thaet it roaege 

Weorthan of waetere f 

WUte torht scineth 120 

Sunna swegle hat ; 

Sona gecerreth 

Is mere «nlic 

<>n hiv agen gecynd, 

Weortheth to wsBtre. 125 

Ne thincth thaet wundor mice], 

Monna aenegum, 

Thaet he maege geieon 

Dogora gehwuce ; 

Ac thaeet dyiie folc 103 

Th»t hit aeldnor geaihth 
Swithor wundriath : 
Theah hit wiara gehwaem 
Wundor thince 
On his mod-sefan 
Micle laesse. 
Ealneg wenath, 
Thaet thaat eald geseeaft 
Mtn ne waere,— 
Thaet hi seidon geaioth; 
Ac awithor giet, 
Weoruid-men wenath 
Th«t hit weaa come, 
Niwan gesaelde ; 

Gif hiora naengum, 

Hwylc asT ne otheowde. 

Is thaet earmlio thine 1 

Ac gif hiora aenig 

^fre weortheth, 

To thon flrwet-geom. 

Thaet he fela onginth 

Leomian lista. 

And him lifea weard 

Of mode abrit 

Thaet micle dysig, 

Thaet hit oferwr^n mid 

Wunode lange ; 

Tbonne ic thaet geare, 

Thaet hi ne wundriath 

Maenigea ttiinges. 

The monnum nu 

Waertho and wunder 

Wei hwaer thynceth. 




Who now is so unlearned among people of the world. 
As not to wonder at the clouds upon the skies imfurl'd. 
The swiftly rolling heavens and the racing of the stars. 
How day by day they run aromid this mid earth in their cars : 

Who then of men doth wonder not these glittering stars to see. 

How some of them round-wafted in shorter circles be. 

And some are wanderers away, and far beyond them all. 

And one there is which worl(Uy men the Wain with shafts do call. 

These travel shorter than the rest, with less of sweep and swerve 
They turn about the axle, and near the north-end curve. 
On that same axle quickly round turns all the roomy sky. 
And swiftly bending to the south untiring doth it fly. 

Then who is there in all the world that is not well amazed 
(Save those alone who knew before the stars on which they gazed) 
That many some-whiles on the heavens make a longer bend. 
And some-whiles less, and sport about the axle of the End : 

Or else much more they wander quickly round the midway spheres 
Whereof is one, hight Saturn, who revolves in thirty years, 
Bootes also, shining bright, another star that takes 
His place again in thirty years of circle that he makes. 




Who is there then of worldly men, to whom it doth not seem 
A thing most strange that many stars go under the sea-stream. 
As Kkewise some may falsely ween that also doth the sun. 
But neither is this likeness true, nor yet that other one. 

The sun is not at eventide, nor morning's early light 
Nearer to the sea^stream than in the mid-day bright. 
And yet it seems to men she goes her wandering sphere to lave 
When to her setting down she glides beneath the watery wave. 

Who is there in the world will wonder not to gaze 
Upon the full-moon on his way, bereft of all his rays. 
When suddenly beneath the clouds he is beclad with black ? 
And who of men can marvel not at every planet's track ? 

Why shine they not before the sun in weather clear and bright. 

As ever on the stilly sky before the moon at night ? 

And how is it that many men much wondering at such 

Yet wonder not that men and beasts each other hate so much ? 

Right strange it is they marvel not how in the welkin oft 
It thunders terribly, and then eftsoons is calm aloft. 
So also stoutly dashes the wave against the shore 
And fierce against the wave the wind uprises with a roar ! 

Who thinks of this ? or yet again, how ice of water grows. 
And how in beauty on the sky the bright sun hotly glows. 
Then soon to water, its own kin, the pure ice runs away ; 
But men think that no wonder, when they see it every day. 

This senseless folk is far more struck at things it seldom sees. 
Though every wise man in his mind will wonder less at these ; 
UnstaJworth minds will always think that what they seldom see 
Never of old was made before, and hardly now can be. 

But further yet, the worldly men by chance will think it came, 
A new thing, if to none of them had ever happ'd the same ; 
Silly enough ! — yet if of them a man begins to thirst 
For learning many lists and lores that he had scorn'd at first. 

And if for him the Word of life uncovers from his wit 
The cloke of that much foolishness which overshadowed it. 
Then well of old I wot he would not wonder at things so 
Which now to men most worthily and wonderfully show. 



To teach his ignorant people all that he himself had learnt, 
was ever our Great King's aim : and so in these poems, likely 
enough then soon to become the ballads of the poor sung from 
village to village by the welcome wandering minstrels, Alfred has 
sought to include a little piece of every kind of knowledge. Here 
then we have the astronomy of those times, aod meteorology, 
and other daily unnoticed wonders touched upon. The * northende,* 
the * eaxe' of the 'ruma' sky, and all the wandering stars roimd it 
are the subject of this verse ; which ends as always with a 
recognition of the gracious Word of Life : and the same sort of 
thing is still further enlarged upon in our next metre. 

XXIX. Of the Stars and Seasons. 

Si ▼!■ celsi Jura tonantii, Pura sollen cernere mente. 



Git thu nu nilnige 


Heane anwald 

Hiutre mode 

Ongitan giorne ; 

Gem al-mee gene 

Heofonea tunglu ; 

Hu hi him healdath betwuh 

Sibbe singale, 

Dydon awa lange. 

8\ra hi gewenede 

Wuldres ealdor, 

Mi fniro-sceafte, 

Thaet sio fyrene mot 

Sun ne gesecan 

Sna\r cealdes weg, 

Monna gemsro. 

Hwaet tha msran tnngl 

Auther othres rene 

A ne gehrineth, 

Mr tham thaet other 


Ne huni se steorra 

Gettigan wile 

Wett-dael wolcna, 

Thone wise men 

Una neranath. 

Ealle stiomn 

Sigath sfter sunnan, 

Samod mid rodere, 

Under eorthan grund. 

He ana stent. 

Nis th«t nan wundor ; 

He is wundrum feest 

Upende neah 

Eaxe thees roderes. 

Thonne is an steom, 

Ofer othre beorht ; 

Cymeth eastan up 

Mj thonne sunne ; 

Tbone monna beam, 

Morgen-stiorra hatath, 

Under heofonum : 

Fortbaem he hslethum d»g 

Bodath sfter burgum ; 45 

Breiigeth sfter 

Swegeltorht sunne, 

Samad eallum dsg. 

Is se forrynel 

Fsger and sciene ; 50 

Cirmeth eastan up 

Mnox sunnan ; 






And eft sfter aunnan, 

On setl glideth. 

West under weorulde. 55 

Wer-thioda his 

Noroan onwendath, 

Thonne n iht cymeth ; 

HaUth hine ealle 

iCfen-stiorra. 60 

Se bith thsre sunnan swiftra, 

Siththan hi on setl gewiuth, 

Ofimeth : 

Thst is sthele tungol, — 

Oth thst he be eastan weortheth, 

Eldum othewed, 66 

JEx thonne sunne. 

. hahhath, 70 

Sthele tungol— 
Emne gedsied 
Dsg and nihte, 
Drihtnes meahtum. 
Sunne» and mona, 75 

Swithe gethwsre ; 
Swa him st frymthe, 
Fsder getiohhode. 
Ne thearft thu no wenan 
Thaet tha wlitegan tungi 80 

Thaes theowdomes 
Athroten weorthe 
Mr domes daege. 
Deth siththan ymbe 
Moncynnes fruma, -" 85 

Swa him gemot thinoeth.—— 
Forthon hi he healfe 
Heofones thisses 
On ane ne 1st 

Almihtig God, 9b 

Thy laes hi othn fordyden 
^.thela gesceafta, 
Ac se eac God 
Ealle gemetgath 

Sida gesceafta, 9 

Softa gethwerath. 
Drift thone wstan, 
Hwylum hi gemengeth, 
Metodes crsfte, 100 

Cile with hsto. 
On up rodor. 
JEl beorhto leg. 



LMbt lyfte, 105 

Ligeth him behindan 

Hefiff hroMD dsl ; 

Theah hit hwilan cr 

Eorthe tio cealde 

On inn A hire 110 

Heold and hydde, 

Haligei meahtum. 

Be th«t cyninget gebode, 

Cymeth geara gehwKm, 

Eorthe bringeth 115 

JBghwylc tudor: 

And le hata tumor, 

Hsletha beamum, 

Oeara gehwiice, 

Giereth and drigeth 120 

Geond tidne grund, 

Bed and bleda : 

HBrfeit to honda 

Her buendum, 

Ripa receth. IS5 

Ren Bfter th»m, 

Swylce hagal and anaw, 

Hrusan leecath, 

On wintres tid,— 

Weder unhiore. ISO 

For thaem eorthe onfehth 

Eallum iBdum, 

Oedeth thst hi growath. 

Oeara gehwilce, 

On lencten tid, 1S5 

Leaf up ipryttath. 

Ac te milda metod, 

Monna beamum, 

On eorthan fet 

Eall thst te groweth 1 40 

Wsftmas on weorolde ; 

Wei forthbrengetb bit, 

Thonne he wile, 

Hefona waldend : 

And eowath eft 145 

Eortb-buendum ; 

Vimth thonne he wile 

Nergende God. 

And thBt hehste good 

On heah setle 150 

And thiol lide getceaft 
Thenath and thiowath. 
He thone anwaldeth 
Tluem geweltlethrum,— 
Weoruld geaceafta. 
Nis that nan wundor, 
He is weroda God, 
Cyning and Drihten 
Cwucera gehwelces ; 
Mvrfilm and fruma 

Eallra geaceafta; 
Wyrhta and sceppend 
Weorulde thitie ; 
Wisdom and « 

Ealle geaceafta 

On hsrendo : 

Hio nane ne sendath 

That eft cumath. 

Oif he swageet«ththig 

Ne sutholade 

Ealle gesctafta. 

Aghwylc hlora 

Wrathe tostencte 

Weorthan sceolden ; 

^ghwyilc hiora 

Ealle to nauhte 

Weorthan sceoldon, 

Wrathe toslopena. 

Theah tha ane lufe 

Ealle geaceafta 

Heofones and eorthan 

Haebben geraaene, 

Thst hi thiowien 

Swileum thiod-ftuman, 

And faegniath thaet 

Hiora faeder waldeth. 

Nis thaet uan wundor ; 

Forthsm wuhta nan 

JEfre ne meahte 
Ellea wunian ; 
Gif hi eall maegene 
Hiora ord-fruman 
Ne thiowoden, 
TheodiM msrum t 








If now thou art willing the lord of the world 
His highness and greatness clearsighted to see. 

Behold the huge host of the heavens unfurl'd 
How calmly at peace with each other they be ! 

At the first forming the Glorified Prince 
Ordered it so that the sun should not turn 

Nigh to the bounds of the moon ever since 
Nor the cold path of the snow circle bum. 

Nay, the high stars never cross on the skies 
Ere that another has hurried away ; 

Nor to the westward will ever uprise 
Ursa the star, — so witting men say. 

All of the stars set after the sun 

Under the ground of the earth with the sky : 
That is no wonder ; for only this one. 

The axle, stands fastly and firmly on high. 


Again, there's a star more bright than them all. 
He comes from the east before the sun's birth. 

The star of the morning, — thus him ever call 
Under the heavens the children of earth. 

For that he bodes day's-dawn to men's homes 

After him bringing the sim in his train. 
Fair from the east this forerunner comes 

And glides to the west all shining again. 

People rename him at night in the west. 

Star of the evening then is he hight. 
And when the setting sun goes to her rest. 

He races her down more swift than the light. 

Still he outnms her, until he appears 

Again in the east, forerunning the sun, 
A glorious star, that equally clears 

The day and the night, ere his racing be run. 

Thro' the Lord's power, the sim and the moon 

Rule as at first by the Father's decree ; 
And think not thou these bright shiners will soon 

Weary of serfdom till domesday shall be : 

Then shall the Maker of man at his will 
Do with them all that is right by and bye : 

Meanwhile the Good and Almighty one still 
Setteth not both on one half of the Sky, 

Lest they should other brave beings unmake ; 

But, evergood. He still suffers it not ; 
Somewhiles the dry with the water will slake, 

Somewhiles will mingle the cold with the hot. 

Yea, by His skill, otherwiles will upsoar 

Into the sky fire airily-form'd. 
Leaving behind it the cold heavy ore 

Which by the Holy One's might it had warm'd. 

Bv the King's bidding it cometh each year 
Earth in the summertime bringeth forth fruit. 

Ripens and dries for the soildwellers here [root. 
The seed, and the sheaf, and the blade, and the 


Afterward rain cometh, hailing and snow, 
Wintertide weather that wetteth the world. 

Hence the earth quickens the seeds that they grow 
And in the lententide leaves are nncurlU 

So the Mild Maker for children of men 

Feeds in the earth each fniit to increase, 
Wielder of heaven ! he brings it forth then ; 

Nourishing God ! — or makes it to cease. 

He, Highest Good, sits on his high seat 

Self-king of all, and reins evermore 
This his wide handiwork, made (as is meet) 

His thane and his theow to serve and adore. 

That is no wonder, for he is The King, 
Lord God of hosts, each living soul's awe. 

The source and the spring of each being and thing. 
All the world's maker and wisdom and law. 

Everything made, — on His errands they go. 
None that he sendeth may ever turn back ; 

Had he not stablished and settled it so 
All had been ruin and fallen to rack ; 

Even to nought would have come at the last : 
All that is made would have melted away : 

But in both heaven and earth, true and fast, 
All have one love such a lord to obey. 

And are full fain that their Father should reign ; 

That is no wonder, for else should each thing 
Never have life, if they did not remain 

True to their Maker, man's glorious King. 

Very few words in these hterally rendered metres are not pure 
unlatinized English, — the same as used by Alfred : even to fore- 
runner, ' Forrynel,' ' wintres-tid,' and ' lencten-tid' and * thios side 
gesceaft thenath and thiowath,' &c, and ' this wide handiwork is 
his thane and his theow ' ; &c. 



XXX. Of the True Sun. 

PuTO clarum lumlne Phoebum Melliflui canit orU Homcrus : 

Omenit waet 

East mid Orecum, 

On th»m leodscipe, 

Leotha craeftgast ; 


Preond and lareow, 

Thsm maeran sceope 

MagiBtra beut. 

Hwst se Omeruf 

Oft and gelome 

Thaere sunnan wlite 

Swithe herede ; 

iEthelo cneftas, 

Oft and gelome, 

Leothum and apellum, 

Leodum reahte. 

Ne msg hio theah geicinan, 

Theah hio tie icir and beorht, 

Ahwsrgen neah 
Ne fuithum ttaa gesceafta 
The hio geacinan m«g 
Endemes ne msg 
Ealle geondlihtan 
Innan and utan. 
Ac te aelmihtega 
Waldend and wjrrhta 
Weorulde geaceafta, 
His agen weorc 
Eall geondwliteth, 
Endemea thurhsyhth 
Ealle geaceafta. 
Daeth ia aio aothe 
Sunne mid rihte be thaem 
We magon aingan 
Swylc butan lease. 



Homer, among the Eastern Greeks, was erst 
The best of bards in all that country-side ; 

And he was Virgil's friend and teacher first. 
To that great minstrel master well allied. 

And Homer often greatly praised the sun. 

Her highborn worth, her skilfulness most true ; 

Often by song and story many a one 
He to the people sang her praises due. 

Yet can she not shine out, tho' clear and bright, 
Everywhere near to every thing all ways. 

Nor further, can she shed an equal light 
Inside and out on all that meet her rays. 

But the Almighty Lord of worldly things, 
Wielder and Worker, brightly shines above 

His own good workmanship, and roimd all flings 
An equal blaze of skilfulness and love ! 

That is the true Sun, whom we rightly may 
Sing without leasing as the Lord of Day. 

Alfred is here commonly accused of an anachronism : but really 
without any cause. Was not Homer in spirit the friend and 
teacher of the Roman Epic Poet ? if the Iliad had never existed, 
should we ever have heard of the iEneid ? — No : — ^let us vindicate 



the self-taught Anglo-Saxon even here ; and not cease further to 
admire how he brings all his knowledge to the footstool of his 

XXXI. Of Man's Uprightness. 

Hw«t thu meaht ongiUn, 

Olf hit the genum lytt, 

Th«t te misliee 

Manen wuhu 

Geond eorthan fanth 5 

Ungelice . 

Habbath hlioh and faerbu, 


And roaeg-wUtaa. 

Manegracynna 10 

Cuth and uneutb, 

Creopath and idnath 


Eorthan getenge , 

Mabbath hi aet nthrum fultum, 16 

Ne magon hi mid fotum gangan, 

Eorthan brucan, 

8wa him eaden waea. 

Sume lotum twam 

Fuldanpeththath, M 

Sume fler>fete ; 

Sume fleogende 

Windeth under woknum. 

Yet more, thou mayst know. 

If it list thee to mind. 
That many things go 
Over earth in their kind. 
Unlike to the view 
In shape as in hue. 

Known or unknown 

Some forms of them all 
On earth lying prone 

Must creep and must crawl ; 
By feathers help'd not. 

Nor walking with feet. 
As it is their lot 

Earth they must eat 

Twofooted these, 

Fourfooted those. 
Each one with ease 
Its going wellknows. 

Some flying high 
Under the sky. 

Bith theah wuhu gehwUc 
Onhnigen to hruaan ; 
Hnipath of dune, 
On weoruld wliteCh ; 
Sume ned-thearfe, 
Sume neod-fraece. 
Man anA gaeth, 
Metodea gesceafta. 
Mid hU andwlitan 
Up on gerihte. 
Midthy tegetacnod, 
Thaet hia treowa aoeal, 
And hli mod-gethonc, 
Ma up thonne nither 
Habban to heofonum. 
Thy Isa he hii hige wende 
Mither twa thaer nyten. 
Nil thaet gedafenlie 
Thaet se mod-aefa 
Monna aenlgea 
Nither-heald weae, 
And thaet neb upweard. 

Yet to this earth 

Is everything bound. 
Bowed from its birth 

Down to the ground. 
Looking on clay 

And leaning to dust. 
Some as they may 

And some as they must 
Man alone goes 

Of all things upright, — 
Whereby he shows 

That his mind and his might 
Ever should rise 
Up to the skies. 
Unless like the beast 

His mind is intent 
Downwards to feast, — 

It cannot be meant 
That any man 

So far should sink 
Upwards to scan 

Yet — downwards to think ! 


This ends the list of the metrical paraphrases of Boethius, as 
given by King Alfred. A few of the odes were omitted by him, — 
probably from want of leisure to set them to music : but in the 
prose version of Boethius we shall probably find all such deficien- 
cies supplied Meanwhile, to make an end. The writer is more 
humbly aware than the severest possible critic would wish to make 
him, how little light he, for his part, has been able to throw upon 
Anglo-Saxon Metre in general. The fact seems to him to be, 
that there must have been supplied a running harp accompaniment 
which, with vocal adlibita also, made up the rhythm and possibly 
now and then the echoing rhyme, of the words as downwritten. 
Take any modem oratorio, and judge how little we can guess its 
melodies from the mere words. There would be naturally very 
little to guide us in words alone, if we remember that poetry in 
those early times of our tongue was far more the harper's craft 
than the scribe's. At the same time the present writer has so 
varied his measiures (more often than Boethius) that, even be it 
but by chance, he may have lighted now and then on some appro- 
ximation in EngUsh to the ancient poetry of the Anglo-Saxons. 




At Shiff ord many thanes were set ; 
There book-learned bishops met. 
Earls and knights, all awsome men. 
And Alfric, wise in lawsome ken : 

* We have to add the interestmg fragment here appended : the authorship is disputable ; 
but there is no doubt that it is a genuine echo of the words of Alfred, especially the latter 
part, the beautiful pathos of which, as addressed by the dying Alfred to his son and successor 


There too England's own darlings 
England's shepherd, England's king, 
Alfred! them he truly taught 
To hve in duty as they ought. 

Alfred, England's king and clerk. 
Well he loved God's holy work : 
Wise was he and choice in speech. 
First of England skill'd to teach. 

Thus quoth Alfred, England's love, 
** Would ye live for God above ? 
'' Would ye long that He may show 
'' Wiselike things for you to know, 
" That you may world's worship gain, 
" And yoiu: souls to Christ attain ? " 

Wise the sayings Alfred said ; 
** Christ the Lord I bid thee dread ; 
'' Meekly, O mine own dear friend, 
'' Love and like him without end ; 
" He is Lord of life and love, 
'' Blest all other bliss above, 
'' He is Man, our Father true, 
" And a meek mild Master too ; 
'' Yea, our brother; yea, our king ; 
*' Wise and rich in every thing, 
'' So that nought of His good will 
*' Shall be aught but pleasure still 
" To the man who Him with fear 
" In the world doth worship here," 

Thus quoth Alfred, our delight ; 

" He may be no king of right 

'' Under Christ, who is not fill'd 

" With book lore, in law wellskill'd ; 

'' Letters he must understand, 

*' And know by what he holds his land.** 

Edward the Elder, u truly affecting. The Anglo-Saxon of this fragment has come down to 
us in a much more modem form, and is therefore not given here. The antiquary will here- 
after find it among the original texts. 


Thus quoth Alfred, England's praise, 

England's pride and joy always : 

" Earl and atheling 

" Both be under the king, 

*' The land to lead 

*' With duteous deed ; 

" Both the clerk and the knight 
*' Equally hold by right : 
'' For as a man soweth 
" Thereafter he moweth, 
*' And every man's doom 
" Shall come to his home." 

Thus quoth Alfred ; " To the knight ; 

" 'Tis his wisdom and his right 

" To lighten the land 

*' By the mower's hand 

" Of harvest and of heregongs ; 

" To him it well belongs 

" That the Church have peace 

'* And the churl be at ease 

^' His seeds to sow, 

'' His meads to mow, 

'' His ploughs to drive afield 

" In our behoof to yield ; 

" This is the good knight's care 

'' To look that these well fare." 

Thus quoth Alfred : " Wealth is but a curse, 
" If wisdom be not added to the purse. 
" Though a man hold an himdred and threescore 
*' Acres of tilth, with gold all covered o'er 
" Like growing com, — it all is nothing worth, 
" Unless it prove his Friend, not Foe, on earth. 
" For wherein, saving for good use alone, 
" Does gold-ore differ from a simple stone ?" 

Thus quoth Alfred : " Never let the young 
*' Despair of good, nor give himself to wrong. 


'' Though to his mind right come not as it should, 
" And though he take no joy in what he would. 

'' For Christ when he will 

" Gives good after ill, 

*' And wealth by his grace 

*' In trouble's hard place, 

" And happy the mind 

" That to Him is resignU'* 

Thus quoth Alfred : — *' When a child is wise, 
" That is indeed a father's blessed prize. 
'' Hast thou a child? — ^while yet a little one, 
" In man's whole duty timely teach thy son ; 
" When he is grown, he still shall keep the track 
" And for all cares and troubles pay thee back. 
*' But, if thou leave him to his evil will, 
'* When grown, such duties will be galhng still, 
" For thy bad teaching he shall curse thee sore, 
'* And shall transgress thy counsels more and more ; 
'' Better for thee an unborn son, I wot, 
" Than one whom thou the father chastenest not." 

Thus quoth Alfred : — " If thou growest old, 
'* And hast no pleasure, spite of weal and gold, 
" And goest weak ; — then, thank thy Lord for this, 
" That he hath sent thee hitherto much bhss, 
'^ For life, and hght and pleasures past away ; 
'* And say thou, come and welcome, come what may ! 

Thus quoth Alfred : — '* Worldly wealth and strength 

" Come to the worms, and dust, and death at length, 

" Though one be king of earth and all its power, 

" He can but hold it for life's little hour. 

" Thy glorious state will work thee grievous fate, 

*' Unless thou purchase Christ, before too late. 

'' Therefore in living well, at God's behest, 

*' By serving Him we serve ourselves the best 

" So, rest thou well that He will send thee aid, 

" As Salomon the King right wisely said, 

*' He that does worthy good on earth has wit, 

" At last he goeth where he findeth it" 


Thus quoth Alfred : — " My dear son, come near, 
" Sit thou beside, and I wiU teach thee here. 
'' I feel mine hour is well-nigh come, my son ; 
" My face is white ; my days are almost done : 
" Soon must we part ; I to another throne, 
'' And thou in all my state shalt stand alone : 
'' I pray thee, — ^for mine own dear child thou art, 
'* Lord of this people, play their father's part, 
*' Be thou the orphan's sire, the widow's friend, 
•' Comfort the poor man, and the weak defend, 

''With all thy might 

" Succour the right, 

'' And be strong 

" Against the wrong : 
" And thou, my son, by law thyself restrain, 
'' So God shall be thy Guide, and glorious Gain ; 
'' Call thou for help on Him in every need, 
" And He shall give thee greatly to succeed. 

And now. Reader, (by old prescription, '' candid, gentle, and 
benevolent,") you here have had set out before you somewhat of 
the very mind of Alfred, and that as much as might be in his own 
pure words : a wholesome feast of reason and most curious interest ; 
for the first time (though after a thousand years,) served in such 
sort as that you may confidently feed on it with ease, and perhaps 
not without pleasiure. 

You have here had evidence of the deep country's-love and 
high sense of duty that dwelt in our first great King of old ; in 
that, notwithstanding the continual torments of a chronic 
disease, the constant vicissitudes of invasion or conquest, and the 
ceaseless cares and anxieties of government, Alfred still foimd 
time himself to learn, and then to teach his half barbarian people. 
To this*end, he used the common speech of his own Anglo-Saxon 
realm, instead of the language of the learned : herein standing 
almost alone among the teachers, not only of that day, but of 
almost all others. Bede, Alcuin, and John Erigena, with every 
body else a thousand years ago, and all but every body ever since, 
vsrrote and taught in Latin: but it better pleased our noble-minded 
King to condescend to the instruction of his humblest subjects 
through the means of their mother-tongue. 


Thus, as we have seen, he did his best to give them an insight, 
however small om* more enlightened age may deem it, not only 
into those highest matters of morals and reHgion, but also into such 
good earthly food for man's mind here below, as physics, history, 
geography, astronomy. All this argued the King to be himself 
the liberal-minded scholar, as well as the pure-minded Christian : 
and in these more independent and democratic days of wide-spread 
knowledge, we cannot sufficiently estimate the good practically 
accomplished by such a man as Alfred, at once the Rmer and the 
Teacher of his people. 

For the present version, let it be repeated that no attempt has 
been made to *' improve upon" the original : and as little licence 
as possible has been permitted for filling up a stanza, or gaining a 
rhyme. So then if, according to the genius of the Anglo-Saxon 
fitte or song, Alfred aims at bringing the same sounds upon the 
ear, and the same sense upon the mind, over and over again, those 
modern abominations of criticism, alliteration and tautology, must 
be regarded not as faults but beauties ; not symptoms either of 
carelessness or of a mere ear-tickling jingle, but marks of heed- 
fulness and art, and according to the character of early bardic 
ballads. These metres, for the most part, are here rendered into 
such primitive English as that a Saxon may readily understand 
every word of them. But it does not follow that, because 
some words appear to be Latin, they are not also Anglo-Saxon : 
for instance Alfred uses some very similar to magister, castrum, 
ovis, CARCER, and many others : and, as every linguist is aware, 
there are several words which prove our common origin, being 
common to nearly every nation under heaven. 

In conclusion, let the .reader not read these modem thoughts 
of ours the last, but just look once again at those most touching 
words of Alfred to his son, wherewith, as a dying speech, we 
suitably make an end to these few snatches of his Poetry. 






Although the period of general European history, from which 
it is proposed to offer some illustrations of the times of Alfred 
the Great, belongs, strictly speaking, to the latter half of the 
ninth century, it is from its earliest days that the point of depar- 
ture will be most advantageously taken in an attempt to trace 
the series of changes which the states of Europe underwent in 
the course of the century, and to arrive at a satisfactory appre- 
hension of the principles which were developing themselves in 
its poUtical system. 

The year 800 was rendered a memorable epoch by the investi- 
ture of the king of the Franks and Lombards with the ensigns of 
imperial dignity, at the hands of the pope, and amidst the accla- 
mations of the Roman people; and if there be truth in the 
metaphor which represents the reign of Charlemagne as a bridge 
between two wild and gloomy regions, — the zone of barbarism 
on one side, and of feudalism on the other, — that event may be 
considered as the key-stone in the mighty fabric which his 
genius had reared or restored out of the ruins of the Western 
Empire. His reign, prolonged for fourteen years, was yet too 
short to admit of the empire's attaining, under the circumstances 
of the times, the coherence and stability indispensable to the 
maintenance of its integrity when his sceptre fell to feebler hands. 


As in other instances of brilliant but transitory supremacy, both 
in ancient and modern times, its dissolution was as rapid as the 
conquests on which it was based. 

Perhaps no period of European history, on a cursory view, 
presents a field more barren of interest than the age which suc- 
ceeded the reign of Charlemagne. None can well oppose greater 
difficulties to an attempt to draw out from the tangled web of 
contemporary annals a thread of narrative which may serve for a 
guide through the confused labyrinth of events, and for a clue 
to the discovery of the confhcting elements which were indis- 
tinctly working out a new order of things in the political state of 
Europe. The mind recoils from contemplating the condition of 
anarchy and wretchedness into which society was again plunged ; 
and neither the long series of intestine wars originating in the con- 
tests of the descendants of Charlemagne for fragments of his vast 
empire, nor their feeble struggles against the aggressions of the 
barbarous hordes which, when his powerful arm was withdrawn, 
renewed their assaults on all the frontiers, — alike inglorious, — 
shed any lustre on the annals of the age. Nor is it an easy task 
to trace on a chart of reduced compass the variable outlines of 
kingdoms created, severed, reunited or absorbed, and the vicissi- 
tudes of the empire, at times restored to almost its original inte- 
grity, till it was at length finally resolved into its constituent 

Some idea may be formed of the intricacy in which the details 
of this period of history are involved, from the fact that nearly 
forty of the immediate descendants of Charlemagne, Prankish 
emperors and kings, attained imperial or royal dignity, in the 
fluctuations of the times, within a century after his death ; besides 
many other powerful chiefs, who in the final dismemberment of 
the empire carved out for themselves independent states, and 
sought to legitimatize their assumption of power by claims of 
descent from the great Emperor, in whose blood the Pranks 
recognised the right of sovereignty, as in the heroic times of 
Greece all the great families traced their Uneage from one com- 
mon source. 

But however intricate and uninviting the path which lies before 
us may, on a hasty glance, appear to be, if it is pursued with 


diligence, it will open views circumscribed by no narrow and 
clouded horizon. Light breaks through the surrounding gloom. 
Amidst the general confusion which prevailed during the greater 
part of the ninth century, — ^international wars and barbarian 
invasions, the rivalry of imperfectly amalgamated races, with 
various elements of power struggling for supremacy, and none 
sufficiently preponderating to acquire the mastery, — amidst all 
these disorders, and springing out of these conflicts, may be dis- 
covered the germs of political systems destined to have an endur- 
ing influence in the frame of the European common-wealth. 
The foimdations were being laid for the ascendancy of that terri- 
torial aristocracy which in the next century, under the organiza- 
tion of the feudal system, gave to Europe at least the benefits of 
external security with internal order and subordination. And 
from the dismemberment of the empire of Charlemagne sprung 
those national monarchies which, — ^for a long period overshadow- 
ed by the power of the nobles,— at length rose to supremacy, and 
subsisted until lately, under forms more or less constitutional, in 
the greater part of the European kingdoms. The history of the 
ninth century therefore requires a careful examination, if we wish 
to form precise ideas of the political state of Europe in the middle 
ages, and of the origin of those forms of government and territorial 
arrangements which have come down to our own times. 

Nor can it be uninteresting, in such a work as this, to have 
that portion of European history, which comprises a period nearly 
contemporaneous with the life of Alfred the Great, sketched in 
lines parallel with his own ; although there were but few occur- 
rences, and no political relations, in that age, connecting the 
Anglo-Saxon kingdom with the states of the continent. Indeed 
for nearly six centuries after the severance of Britain from the 
Roman empire, its connection, both political and social, with the 
rest of Europe was very slight, except as respected ecclesiastical 
affairs, in which the missionary origin of the conversion of the 
Saxons linked it to the Holy See more intimately than any other 
national church. It was not till the Norman conquest, two 
centuries later, that those multiplied relations arose, — whether 
dynastic or territorial, of tenure, of institutions and of language, 
which, as it were, bridged over the channel and brought England 
again into the European system. 


In the time of Alfred, the Frank kings were united by family 
compacts or engaged in mutual hostihties, to which the Anglo- 
Saxon monarch was equally alien. It might have been poUtic 
that both should have combined to form a powerful league against 
the northern invaders, the common enemy ; but in those unsettled 
times each party was too much occupied with his own affairs to 
have any leisure either for forming or keeping up distant 
relations, and only strove with desultory efforts to repel the in- 
vaders from his own shores. On the whole, therefore, it is in the 
way of contrast, rather than of connexion, that the times of 
Alfred are to be viewed with reference to the other European 
kingdoms of that age. 

The chronology of the century singularly facilitates a clear 
apprehension of its most important aeras and events. It opens 
with the coronation of Charlemagne at Rome, the culminating 
point of his ambition, in the year 800 ; a most important epoch. 
Alfred was bom towards the close of the first haK of the century, 
just when the tripartite division of the empire had been consiun- 
mated by the congress of Mersen in 847, a compact renewed in 
849, the very year of AKred's birth. That partition of the 
dominions of Charlemagne was a second memorable sera. 

Alfred lived to see the close of the century, dying in 901, when 
the final dismemberment of the empire had been effected ; Lewis 
third of that name and the last of the emperors of his blood, 
having been crowned in 900. Charles le Sot, the imbecile, retain- 
ed but the shadow of power ; for France, as well as nearly the 
whole of western Europe, was now parcelled out into a number 
of smaller kingdoms and independent dutchies and counties. 
Misrule and anarchy again prevailed. New swarms of barbarians 
of the race of the Huns, were ravaging the eastern frontier of 
Christendom; the Saracens had established themselves on the 
coasts of Italy and Provence ; and the Normans were on the eve 
of wrenching from the feeble hands of Charles le Sot one of the 
finest provinces of France. The death of Alfred therefore nearly 
coincides with a third important epoch. 

All interest in the political state of Europe during the ninth 
century centres in the Carlovingian empire, as it subsisted entire 
for nearly the first half of the century imder Charlemagne and 


his son Louis le Debonnair, and as it was apportioned and divided, 
during the second half, among their successors. The empire re- 
united nearly all the countries which had been subject to the rule 
of the Western Caesars and had partaken of the Roman civiliza- 
tion. Viewed in its widest extent, — as including the tributary 
nations beyond the proper frontier, — the Elbe and the Baltic may 
be considered its extreme limits on the north ; the Mediterranean, 
the Adriatic, or perhaps the Save, on the south ; the Oder, the 
Carpathian moimtains, the Danube or the Theiss on the east; 
and the ocean and narrow seas, from the gulf of Gascony to the 
mouth of the Elbe, on the west. 

The first kingdoms founded by the Franks, after they crossed 
the Rhine, were those of Austrasia and Neustria, in Gaul, on the 
north of the Loire. Round these respective centres were grouped 
the kingdoms aud territories which were the fruits of their subse- 
quent conquests. To Austrasia, having the Rhine and the Meuse 
for its northern and eastern boundaries, the Scheld on the west 
and the Vosges on the south, the victories of Pepin annexed the 
country between the Rhine, the Danube, and the Rhaetian Alps, 
the antient Vindelicia ; from which was formed the kingdom of 
Almaine or Bavaria. Those of Charlemagne northward on the 
Elbe added Saxony and Thuringia to the German branch of the 

In Gaul, the victorious arms of the Franks had gradually con- 
solidated all the surrounding states with their original kingdom 
of Neustria. They became masters of the ancient Burgundian 
kingdom of the Goths between the Rhone and the Grecian Alps, 
from Provence on the shores of the Mediterranean to the Vosges 
where it met the Austrasian fontier, and to the sources of the 
Rhone ; including, therefore, great part of modem Switzerland. 
The great province of Gothia or Septimania, afterwards called 
the Narbonnese, situated between the Rhone and the Garonne, 
with the dutchy of Gascony, extending from the Garonne to the 
Pyrenees, and bounded by the Atlantic on the west, completed the 
circuit of the south of Gaul. The central region, occupied by 
the Aquitani and lying between the two last named provinces and 
the circuitous course of the Loire, opposed the greatest resistance 
to the arms of the Franks. Their final subjugation was the first 
enterprise of Charlemagne's reign ; and the kingdom of Aquitain, 


subsequently founded, took its place among the satellite sovereign- 
ties of the Neustrian Franks. Brittany on the north-west, strong 
in its peninsular position, its rugged surface, and the brave and 
independent character of its ancient people, yielded a reluctant 
submission to the power of the great emperor; to whom its 
dukes, as well as those of Gascony in the south-west, rendered a 
doubtful allegiance. Thus the whole of Gaul was included in the 
dominions of the restored empire. 

In Spain, the narrow angle of territory between the Pyrenees 
and the Ebro, the modern Catalonia, formed a province, with 
Barcelona for its capital, which was debateable ground between 
the Franks and the Saracens ; and the counts of the Spanish marches 
guarded with difficulty that advanced frontier of the empire. In 
the valleys of the Asturias the descendants of the Christian exiles 
who escaped from the conquest of the Moors, joined to the hardy 
Basques, maintained their freedom and nourished their strength 
till the waning crescent should give the signal for rushing from 
their mountain fastnesses to restore the ancient kingdom of the 
Visigoths and re-establish the cross in the cities of Spain. With 
these small exceptions, the whole of the peninsula was included 
in the Saracen caliphate of Cordova ; a section of Eiu'ope suffici- 
ently important and interesting to demand hereafter a separate 

In Italy, the arms of Pepin had wrested from the Greek emperor 
the exarchate of Ravenna and the Pentapolis, as Romagna was 
then called, — on the shores of the Adriatic. His piety or his 
prudence had induced him to cede those territories to the Pope ; 
but whatever rights beneficiary and administrative were conferred 
by that memorable dotation, it seems clear that those of suzerainty, 
at least, were reserved to himself and his successors, patricians of 
Rome and kings or emperors of the Franks. The Gothic kingdom 
of Lombardy, subjugated by Charlemagne, maybe considered the 
central seat of the Frankish dominion in Italy, as the kingdoms 
of Austrasia and Neustria were in Germany and Gaul. With the 
iron crown of the Lombard kings Charlemagne assumed the style 
of king of Italy ; and with their rich territories in the north — ^he 
succeeded to their rights over the great Lombard dukedom of 
Beneventum, in the south of the peninsula, composing more than 
half of the present kingdom of Naples ; rights, however, fiercely 


resisted by the powerful dukes who claimed independence in 
the government of that fine territory. Finally, when Charlemagne, 
king of the Franks and Lombards, was invested with the imperial 
crown, and hailed Caesar and Augustus by the acclamations of 
the Roman people, he succeeded to the prerogatives of the 
western emperors over the city and state of Rome, and whatever 
rights those lofty titles gave him pretensions to assert ; not the 
least of which was, that the election of the Popes was subject to 
his control and required the confirmation of the emperor. These 
prerogatives and the rights of suzerainty, as yet undefined, vested 
in such hands as Charlemagne's, conferred a real power over the 
most powerful vassals who struggled for independence in the 
government of their great fiefs. 

The dominion of the Eastern emperors in Italy was now re- 
duced to a fragment of territory and an empty title. Venice 
founded in the lagunes of the Adriatic by refugees from the Lom- 
bard invasion, together with the Greek cities of Naples, Gaeta, 
and Amalfi on the shores of the Mediterranean, which retained 
the institutions of municipalities and were enriched by the wealth 
their maritime position and active industry created, were gradually 
establishing their independence and becoming the types of the 
great Italian republics of the middle ages. These free cities, 
however, either from the force of old associations or the policy 
of attaching themselves to a weak and a distant power instead of 
submitting to a powerful and neighbouring master, still paid a 
nominal allegiance to the Greek emperor. In the case of Venice, 
indeed, the Latin writers vaunt of its complete subjugation by 
Pepin son of Charlemagne and titular king of Italy. But the 
Italians give a more correct account of the issue of his enterprise. 
They admit that Pepin gradually reduced all the islands, till the 
Venetians, driven to extremity, retired on the Rialto, which 
thenceforth became their citadel and seat of government. Having 
there concentrated their forces, they sallied forth and burnt the 
fleet of Pepin, which had grounded in the shallows of the Lagunes. 
This signal success and their unapproachable position left them 
afterwards nothing to fear for the maintenance of their indepen- 
dence. The Doges of Venice formed alliances with the Greek 
cities on the northern shore of the Adriatic, and laid the founda- 
tions of the dominion which they afterwards extended on that 


coast But here their position was more accessible^ and Istria 
and Dalmatia were reckoned among the provinces of the empire 
connected with its Italian states. 

The actual sovereignty of the Greek emperors in Italy in the 
ninth century was confined to an unimportant territory at its 
eastern extremity, where part of Apulia and Calabria with Bari for 
the capital, dignified after the extinction of the exarchate of Raven- 
na, with the empty title of the Theme of Lombardy, was all that 
remained of their dominions in the west. Indeed, though their 
Byzantine capital was seated on the hither side of the Bosphorus, 
and the barbarized provinces of Greece and Macedonia were sub- 
ject to their rule, the emperors of Constantinople can scarcely 
be considered at this period as an European power. With so 
wide a field before us it is therefore happily needless that we 
should more than incidentally notice the political relations of the 
series of emperors who, with savage despotism or oriental apathy, 
filled the Byzantine throne between the Isaurian and the Mace- 
donian dynasties. A frontier treaty with Charlemagne, another 
with the Cahphs of Spain for mutual cooperation against those of 
Bagdad, some pompous embassies to the Prankish kings, and the 
tardy and infrequent appearance of their fleets on the southern 
shores of Italy, were the slender tokens of the intervention of the 
Greek emperors in the affairs of western Europe. 

Exterior to the great aggregation of kingdoms which composed 
the body of the Carlovingian empire, a vast zone almost equal 
in extent to the immediate territories af the Franks, peopled by 
nations mostly of Sclavonic origin, embraced its northern and 
eastern flanks. It extended from the Baltic to the gulf of Venice, 
and was backed again by still more savage and unknown tribes 
who wandered over the deserts of northern and eastern Europe 
ready in tiim to pour their swarms on any frontier where the pro- 
gress of civihzation might advance — not to speak of the Scandina- 
vian tribes, whose piratical descents on every coast will form a 
melancholy feature in the course of this enquiry, but whose his- 
tory belongs to another division of the present work. 

The victories of Charlemagne over the nations more inunedi- 
ately in contact with his hereditary dominions, the Saxons, the 
Moravians and the Bohemians, enabled him to extend the bounds 


of his empire to the Oder, the Carpathian mountains, the Danube 
and the Theiss. But these warlike nations submitted impatiently 
to a foreign master. They became tributaries rather than sub- 
jects, and were waiting the opportunity which the decline of the 
empire speedily afforded them, of throwing off the yoke and 
asserting their national independence. 

Such being a geographical sketch and a view of the relative 
positions of the dominions of the Franks in the last years of 
Charlemagne, it may easily be conceived that no arm less power- 
ful, no mind less vigorous than his, could enforce the allegiance 
of so many peoples, differing in race, in customs, and in language, 
held together by no common interests, and over which the rights 
of sovereignty materially varied. 

But viewing the empire in its integrity, it must not be supposed 
that under Charlemagne himseK, with all the power of his arms 
and all the vigour of his administration, it presented the aspect of 
order and tranquillity which its traditions seem to convey.* Scarcely 
a year passed but Charlemagne was at the head of his armies, at 
one time to curb the barbarians on the Elbe, at another to chas- 
tise the insubordinate vassals of Brittany or Beneventum ; now, 
to repel the incursions of the Sclaves on the Oder or the Danube, 
and again to secure or enlarge his Spanish frontier on the Ebro. 

It is foreign to our purpose to consider the character of Char- 
lemagne's legislative and administrative policy, except as it may 
be hereafter necessary to glance at its connection with the revolu- 
tions, the elements of which are to be discovered in the very foun- 
dation of the empire. The leading principles of his government 
were unity, the conservation and extension of the remains of 
Roman civilization, incessant conflict with barbarism within and 
without He reformed, protected, and Endowed the church ; he 
made it his instrument and auxiliary ; but he ruled it with a stem 
hand. The ascendancy of the bishops over the temporal power 
was deferred till the period from which we propose to take our 
next point of view ; — that of the popes to a still later age. Char- 
lemagne founded schools and encouraged learning — surrounding 

(1) The chronicles of the times record Charlemagne's annual expeditions as part of his 
regular routine of action, with as much uniformity as they register his solemnization of the 
great feasts of the church and his hunting in the forests of the Vosges or the Ardennes. 

Eiiay* ^^ 


himself with the most accomplished men of the age, when scholars 
were statesmen as well as philosophers. 

It was from the abbies and schools of England and Ireland that 
Charlemagne and his successors drew some of the most able men 
who enjoyed his confidence and were employed in their wise 
measures for the diffusion of knowledge. We remark with satis- 
faction that the intellectual state of the British islands was then 
superior to that of the continent. Ireland, long illustrious for 
learning and sanctity, had found in her inaccessible position, secu- 
rity from the ravages of the successive hordes of barbarians, who 
nearly obliterated all remains of civihzation in the continental 
states. In England the Saxon invaders soon settled down, and 
the establishments for study and science which Christianity intro- 
duced were not broken up till the great irruption of the Danes, and 
at the period of which we speak were quietly pursuing their labours. 
It was from York that Charlemagne invited Alcuin his chief 
counsellor and the principal instrument of his great designs for 
the improvement of his people ; and Alcuin obtained from the 
Anglo-Saxon monasteries the greater part of the manuscripts, 
both of profane and sacred literature, which he caused to be 
copied and used in the schools of France and Germany. 

The death of Charlemagne produced no immediate change in 
the imperial system. The impress which his genius had made on 
the face of European society was not quickly effaced, and we 
shall find its stronger lines distinctly visible during the reigns of 
two of the kings, who after his death occupied the imperial 
throne. The administrative forms were the same, when the spirit 
which animated them had departed. The great barbarian nations 
which he subjugated, though they frequently invaded the frontiers 
and ultimately succeeded in establishing national sovereignties, 
never again penetrated into the interior of the empire ; learning 
was still encouraged, and the church was further reformed ; and, 
amidst most of the divisions which followed, the struggle for 
unity was maintained, though the centre of power was afterwards 
transferred alternately from Germany to France. 

It is probable also that the genius and example of Charlemagne 
were not without some influence on the fortunes of the Anglo- 
Saxon kingdom. Alcuin of York must have familiarized him 


with its affairs ; and he was in intimate relation with several of 
its kings. 

There is extant a letter from Charlemagne to Offa king of 
Mercia, in which he promises to protect strangers and merchants 
in his dominions, and begs the prayers of the Anglo-Saxon king 
for the soul of his dear deceased friend pope Adrian. 

Eginhard, his secretary and historian, informs us that Eardulf 
king of Northumberland, being expelled from his country, re- 
paired to Charlemagne, who was then at Nimeguen, and return- 
ing with ambassadors from the emperor and the pope was restored 
to his kingdom by their influence. Egbert, also a banished man, 
was trained in the school and the camp of Charlemagne. Having 
held a high rank and been intrusted with important employ- 
ments both civil and military in his service, * Egbert was raised to 
the throne of Wessex the year before Charlemagne consummated 
his great achievements by adding the prestige of the imperial dig- 
nity to his sovereign rights of birth or of conquest over the 
Roman populations of Italy, of Germany, and of Gaul. In the 
polished court of Charlemagne, and in the society of the accom- 
plished and learned men that great prince drew around him, 
Egbert would have learnt the importance of promoting the civiliza^- 
tion of his rude Anglo-Saxon subjects : while his design of uniting 
the Heptarchy shews with what a vigorous hand he carried out 
the leading feature in the policy of his illustrious friend. 

Our own Alfred also, if we are not greatly mistaken, caught 
some of his inspiration from recollections which were still fresh in 
the memory of men, and in the traditions of his own family. 
• The impression may have been deepened by his residence at the 

(2) As a count of the empire he appears to have heen entrusted with the defence of the 
Saxon march against the incursions of the Danes across the Elhe, on the hanks of which, 
between Hamburgh and the sea, Egbert founded the town and castle of Esselfelt He 
was afterwards employed, with other commissioners, in negociating a treaty of peace with 
the Danish king, which was approved by Charlemagne. 

(3) The difficulties in which the question of Alfred's relation to Judith is involved, have 
raised doubts as to the authenticity of the anecdote which refers Alfred's first acquisition cf 
letters to the teaching of his mother. The story of his permitting the cakes to bum on the 
hearth of the cottage at Athelney has been also doubted. For ourselves, we are unwilling 
to consign to the region of the fabulous, incidents which have an air of truth and nature 
and rest upon very respectable evidence. These stories have become " household words," 
inseparably connected with the name of Alfred. Even literary scepticism, we are inclined 
to think, is sometimes carried too far. 


court of Charles the Bald^ and afterwards by intercourse with his 
step-mother Judith who was the daughter of that king. However 
this may be, the policy of Alfred was in many essential particulars 
identical with that of the great emperor. We find the same in- 
domitable spirit of resistance to barbarian invaders; the same 
disposition to compromise, on terms of suzerainty, with powerful 
chiefs holding independent sections of territory ; the same efforts 
for the civilization both of native subjects and of foreigners who 
had estabhshed themselves within or on the borders of their 
proper dominion, for the restoration of union and order, and the 
encouragement of learning ; the same enlightened cooporation 
with the church. Alfred's sphere of action, indeed, was more 
circumscribed; but these volumes contain abundant evidence 
that in all the nobler qualities of the mind and heart, — unselfish- 
ness, patriotism, love of his people, deep religious feeling, — ^in aU 
the moral virtues and in intellectual powers, — the Anglo-Saxon 
king was immeasurably superior to the Frank emperor. 

On the death of Charlemagne, his only surviving son, Lewis, — 
le Debonnaire of the French, the plus of the Latin writers — in- 
herited all his father's dominions, except Italy, which his elder 
brother Pepin had governed with the title of king, his son Bernard 
succeeding him on his death shortly before that of Charlemagne. 
The Italian people, ever impatient of the yoke of German domi- 
nation, had encoiu-aged the young prince, on the accession of the 
new emperor, to aspire at the estabhshment of a national and 
independent sovereignty ; but the enterprise failing, Bernard was 
thrown into captivity and miserably perished under circumstances 
of cruelty which cast a stain on the character of his imcle ; 
and though he was not directly culpable, caused him afterwards 
the deepest remorse and a most painful expiation. 

All the dominions of Charlemagne were thus united under the 
sole government of Lewis ; and the early years of his reign were 
otherwise prosperous. The insurrections of the tributary nations, 
who had flown to arms on the death of the late emperor, were 
speedily quelled. The integrity of the empire was secured, am- 
bassadors from the Greek emperor and the caliph of Cordova 
offered their congratulations; and the mission of Anscaire into 
Sweden for the conversion of the pagans of Scandinavia, with the 
foundation of an episcopal see at Hamburgh, evinced the piety of 


Lewis and extended his influence in the north of Europe. The 
imperial household was purified from the scandals which the lax 
morality of Charlemagne * had introduced. The reformations of 
the church, commenced by him, were enforced with a rigour of 
discipline long imknown, and, as Lewis inherited his father's love 
of letters, his court was frequented by learned men. 

The people oppressed by Charlemagne found in his son an 
upright and lenient judge. "Thus," says an eloquent writer, 
" the inheritance of conquest and spoliations fell into the hands 
of a simple and just man ; who chose at any cost to make reparation.. 
The barbarians who recognised his sanctity, submitted their dis- 
putes to his arbitration. He sat on the judgment seat in the 
midst of his people, like an easy and confiding father. He went 
about repairing, comforting, restoring ; and it appeared as if he 
would have willingly given away the whole empire in making 

Lewis le Debonnaire was by no means wanting in either courage 
or military conduct, and in his early years he had success- 
fully led the Prankish armies against the Saracens in Spain; 
but he was deficient in the sterner qualities necessary for holding 
the helm of the state with a firm hand in those unsettled times. 
It was his misfortune to reign under circumstances when a 
powerful genius seconded by an energetic character could hardly 
have arrested the developement of the germs of separation which 
were springing up on all sides. He had to combat two principles 
of dissolution which were entailed on the inheritance of Charle- 
magne, to reconcile the political unity and central government of 
the imperial monarchy with the forms of succession which were 
the custom of the Franks from the time of Clovis. The struggle 
was beyond his strength. His too facile disposition made him 
the tool of intriguing churchmen, the slave of turbulent nobles, 
and, worst of all, the victim of the ambition of his own unnatural 

Lewis's first and most fatal error was pregnant with all the 
disastrous consequences which, in the sequel of his own reign 
and during the remainder of the century, desolated Em-ope. 

(4) Charlemagne had many concuhiaes, and his daughters led very irregular lives. 


Scarcely was he seated on the throne of the united kingdoms 
which composed the empire of Charlemagne, than, following the 
vicious precedent of the Prankish sovereigns, he associated his 
eldest son Lothaire in the title of emperor with the government 
of Italy, giving to his second son, Lewis the German, the kingdom 
of Bavaria ; and to Pepin, his third son, the kingdom of Aqui- 
taine. The suzerainty of the lesser kingdoms was reserved to 
Lothaire as the eldest brother and emperor, and the act of creation 
was accompanied with a solemn protest against its being con- 
strued into a dismemberment of the empire and by oaths of 
fidelity from Lewis and Pepin to Lothaire ; — a protest which 
proved empty words, — oaths which were a solemn mockery. 

Lewis's second marriage, shortly afterwards, with Judith, an 
accomplished but intriguing princess, was another imprudence ; 
and the birth of a son by that union, called Charles the Bald, 
increased the comphcation of affairs. The customs of the age 
and the uxoriousness of a weak monarch concurred in requiring 
that this favourite son should also be invested with royal dignity ; 
and as the appanage of the young prince was severed from the 
territories assigned to his brothers ; fresh seeds of discord were 
planted in the family of Lewis. 

Our slight sketch of the course of affairs at this period will 
only admit a rapid glance at the principal events and influences 
which foreshadowed and prepared the way for the great crisis in 
European affairs which was now imminent, and we are spared 
the task of following the page of history while it describes the 
calamities which the civil wars, fomented by the ambition, the 
rivalry, and the intrigues of the sons of Hermengarde, inflicted on 
Europe and on their too easy father during the closing years of 
his reign. But it is impossible not to pause for a moment before 
the tragic spectacle of the discrowned dishonored monarch seek- 
ing refuge from the insults of his people in the camp of his rebel- 
lious sons, his queen and child torn from his embraces, and a sup- 
pliant in vain, like another king Lear, to those on whom nature, 
duty and gratitude imposed the strongest obligations for reverence 
and honour. 

The imprudence of the act which, in dividing, had utterly shat- 
tered the sovereign power, was only equalled by the weakness of 


the abject humiliation with which the unhappy Lewis submitted 
himself to the judgment of the Frankish bishops assembled at 
Compiegne. His tender conscience touched with remorse for the 
involuntary share which he had taken in the murder of his nephew 
Bernard, he was the more disposed to plead guilty to the long 
list of political offences, — ^headed by that very serious charge, — 
on which he was arraigned. Condemned to a public penance, 
deposed from his sovereign rank and stripp'd of the ensigns of 
imperial dignity, Lewis was led to a convent, the asylum which 
the reverential spirit of that age, amidst all its barbarism, assigned 
to fallen royalty. In a more advanced state of society, revolu- 
tionary tribunals ventured to inflict a keener sentence— while 
exile appears to be the penalty with which modern civilization 
has learnt to be satisfied in dealing with the errors or malversation 
of kings. 

The degradation of Lewis had made him an object of disgust 
to his barons and of contempt to his people. But the sad specta- 
cle which had not touched the hearts of his sons soon roused the 
feelings of his subjects to the commiseration of fallen greatness.— 
The bishops were satisfied with his submission to their judgment ; 
the ascendancy of the church had been signally exhibited ; and 
in an assembly at Thionville they annulled the sentence of the 
emperor's degradation. Lewis was restored to his rank and to 
the exercise of his sovereign authority, but his spirit was broken 
and his career nearly ended. 

The influence of Judith prevailed with him, in the first moments 
of his just indignation, to deprive Lothaire and Lewis, his son 
Pepin being now dead — of their dominions and to confer the 
whole on Charles. But still placable and forgiving, he was again 
reconciled with Lothaire, and a year before his death at the diet 
of Worms, he divided them between Lothaire and Charles, except 
Bavaria which was left to Lewis the German. On his death-bed 
he sent a crown and a sword to Lothaire, charging him to be 
faithful to Judith and Charles. Lewis he forgave though he was 
again in arms in consequence of the emperor's last disposition of 
his dominions ; " But let him look to himself," he said, '' who 
despising God's command has brought his father's grey hairs to 
the grave." The unity of the empire ceased with Lewis le De- 
bonnaire. In the course of the century it was more than once 


re-established for short intervals ; but henceforth it was the shadow 
of a great name. The glory was departed. 

The partition of his dominions made by the late emperor gave 
the eastern provinces beyond the Meuse, the Jm-a and the Rhone 
to his eldest son Lothaire already dignified with the title of 
emperor, and king of Italy ; and the western kingdoms of Neustria 
and Aquitaine, with the rest of France (except Provence which as 
part of the kingdom of Burgundy belonged to Lothaire) to Charles 
the Bald. Lewis the German retained his original kingdom of 
Bavaria ; while Pepin II, on the death of his father of that name — 
the third son of Lewis Debonnaire by Hermengarde — made pre- 
tensions to the kmgdom of Aquitaine which his father had held. 

The death of Lewis, in 840, was the signal for the renewal of 
the jealousies and animosities which had distracted his reign. 
The title of emperor appeared to confer on Lothaire the suze- 
rainty of the crowns of Neustria and Bavaria, and inflated with 
magnificent ideas of his prerogative he assumed a tone of superi- 
ority which the kings Charles and Lewis were not disposed to 
brook. The attempt of Lothaire to resuscitate the empire was 
mdeed a bootless enterprise. He had not only to resist the 
ambition of his two powerful brothers, but the spirit of the age 
was opposed to universal empire and becoming favourable to 
national monarchies ; so that the instinct of the people coincided 
with the personal interests of the two kings, whose independence 
appeared incompatible with the existence of an empire. Nor was 
this all ; for the difference of race was another element in the 
struggle which ensued. It may be viewed in some measure, as a 
contest between the two great races of the conquerors and the 
vanquished, of the Franks of Germany and Gaul against the 
Romans of Italy, and the Roman-Gaulish population of the 
Narbonnese province and Aquitaine. They fought imder the 
standards of the grandsons of Charlemagne, accepted as national 
kings, to overthrow the system which he founded, when by the 
establishment of an imperial throne he confounded all nationalities 
and centred all power in the chief of the conquering race. 

In this great quarrel, involving such various principles and 
interests, Pepin II ranged himself on the side of the emperor; 
and the pope, as an Italian prince and the centre of a system 


which aimed at universal dominion naturally favoured his preten- 
sions. On the other hand, the great body of the bishops and 
clergy supported the cause of the kings. The faithful were 
scandalized by the endeavours of Lothaire to enlist the heathen 
Danes and Saxons, and Pepin the infidel Saracens of Spain, in the 
number of their adherents ; while Charles was considered the 
creature and champion of the church. 

The fate of Europe in 841 hung upon the event of the battle 
of Fontenay,' in which the royal brothers and nephews brought 
their unnatural quarrel to the issue of the sword, and Frank met 
Frank : — those of the Rhine against those of the Seine. The 
slaughter of brave and noble warriors was so great that, as the 
writers of the times lamented, the empire was left defenceless 
against the ravages of the barbarians ; but the battle was indeci- 
sive, except so far as its results may have inclined the contending 
parties to listen to terms of peace, when, on their again meeting in 
arms the year following, the bishops interposed to stay the further 
effusion of blood. A tripartite division of the empire, agreed on 
between the three brothers Lothaire, Lewis and Charles — to the 
exclusion of their nephew Pepin — was carried into effect by the 
treaty of Verdim.* 

843. This partition treaty deserves particular notice ; for it laid 
down the main land-marks of the great European kingdoms as 
they continued to exist for a long course of years. The bases 
were taken from the statu-quo of the three princes in Lombardy, 
Bavaria and Neustria; and the remaining provinces of the empire 
were grouped round these several centres with some due regard 
to natural boundaries and national idiosyncrasies. Lothaire, the 
emperor, had Italy and all the country comprised within the Alps, 
the Rhine and the Scheld, together with the antient kingdoms of 
Burgundy, comprising the territories from the source of the Saone 
to its confluence with the Rhone and along the left bank of the 
Rhone to the sea. To Lewis of Bavaria was allotted all Germany 
beyond the Rhine, with the three cities of Worms, Spire, and May- 
ence on its left bank. Charles the Bald retained the countries 
situated between the Scheld, the Meuse, the Rhone, the Ebro, 
and the two seas. Thus each of the kings had in his lot part of 

(5) Fontenai near Auxerre ; not Fontenoy memorable for another great battle. 

(6) An island of the Saone near Mafon in Burgundy. 


the national territory of the Franks : — Lewis the German their 
original seats beyond the Rhine, Lothaire the Australian kingdom 
intermediate with Neustria, the key of their position in France, 
which fell to Charles the Bald. 

This partition of the empire loosened the ties which held in 
subjection the barbarous nations on the northern and eastern 
frontiers. The Saxons, the Moravians, and the Bohemians were 
already in rebellion, struggling for their emancipation, which 
shortly gave new kingdoms to Europe. Meanwhile the Frank 
kings were dividing territories they could hardly call their own ; 
for the Northmen had penetrated into the heart of France, had 
taken Nantes and Bourdeaux, and burnt Rouen and the fau- 
bourgs of Paris ; the Saracens of Africa were besieging Rome, 
and the Beneventines, the Bretons and the Gascons were in arms 
for the assertion of their antient independence. The exigency of 
the times demanded that the royal brothers should act in concert, 
and two years after the peace of Verdun, they assembled in con- 
gress to consult on the means of securing their thrones against 
present and future dangers. 

847. At the congress of Mersen, * which may be considered as 
the sequel to the partition treaty, the three brothers contracted 
for their mutual support against foreign and domestic enemies. 
They pledged themselves to respect the hereditary rights of the 
young princes their children, saving the supremacy of their uncles ; 
and in order to find some guarantee for the stability of their posi- 
tion in the interests and instincts of the populations of their re- 
spective states, it was stipulated that the vassals should be secured 
in their titles to the absolute proprietorship of their domains, and 
that justice should be administered to the freemen of their realms 
according to the antient laws of their several races ; to the abori- 
ginal inhabitants by the Roman code which prevailed before the 
conquest ; — to the Franks by their own traditional customs. 

The brothers Lewis and Charles met again two years after- 
wards at Kiersy-sur-Oise, and entered afresh, with significant 
ceremonies, into a family compact. Such treaties of alliance, 
accompanied by concessions to national rights, again renewed 
from time to time, having been contracted without sincerity and 

(7) A palace on tlie Meuse near Maestricht. 


infringed without scruple, their repetition only exhibits the weak- 
ness and the apprehensions of the Prankish kings — their doubts 
of the good faith of each other, and their fears of the powerful 
aristocracy which was on every side rising to independence. The 
judicious remark of Des Michels* on the frequent renewal of 
these compacts is applicable to all times : *' L'on pent reconnaitre 
que dans les circonstances ou la tendence des choses est magni- 
festement contraire a la politique des gouvememens, la frequence 
des congres n'est qu'une temoignage de Timpuissance des rois. • 

The review of European affairs which has now been brought 
down to the close of the first half of the ninth century, would be 
incomplete without some brief reference to the great kingdom in 
the western peninsula, which, having been but incidentally con- 
nected with the history of the Frank empire, is reserved for a 
separate notice. We have seen that the only territories possessed 
by Christian powers in Spain were the mountainous district on 
the north, the cradle of the kings of Leon and Navarre, and the 
narrow angle of country lying between the Pyrenees and the 
Ebro — a march rather than a province — dependent on the kings 
and emperors of the Franks. With these exceptions, the Saracens 
possessed the whole of the peninsula, containing the present 
kingdoms of Spain and Portugal, and maintained the integrity of 
their empire during all the changes which affected the rest of the 

Not entering into the system and unmoved by the convulsions 
of central Europe, the Mosarabian kingdom of Spain for a leng- 
thened period enjoyed internal tranquillity, and made advances 
in civilization and in material prosperity, which may well have 
been envied by its less fortunate Christian neighbours. Abdal- 
rahman, its founder, who was contemporary with Charlemagne 
and the caliph Harun-al-Rashid, reigned with a lustre which 
even their renown did not eclipse. The last of the Ommadian 
princes of the east, he had escaped the massacre of his race by 
the rival sect and family of the Abassides, and was a fugitive 
among the Bedouins of Africa, when the sheiks and elders of the 

(8) Des Michels, Histoire Generale du Moyen Age. 

(9) " We have here an illustration of the principle that whenever the tendency of thin^n 
is clearly contrary to the policy of a government, the frequency of congresses is only a 
proof of the weakness of kings." Ibid. 


Arabs in Spain, refusing allegiance to the new sultans of Bagdad, 
chose him for their sovereign. Landing on the coast of Andalusia, 
he was conducted in triumph by Granada and Seville to Cordova, 
a city so beautiful and attractive by its natural position that it 
well deserved the preference of the new caliph in selecting it for 
his residence and the capital of his government. Seated in the 
rich valley washed by the Guadalquiver, within a few miles of 
the lateral chain of the Sierra Morena, the sultry climate of 
Andalusia was tempered by the mountain breezes ; while abun- 
dant waters were poured into the city for the irrigation of its 
luxuriant gardens and the service and refreshment of the inhabi- 
tants. Abdalrahman and his successors added all that art and 
magnificence could devise for the use and embellishment of their 
principal city, establishing at Cordova an independent caliphate 
which, taking its name from that capital, was continued in the 
family of the Ommiades for nearly three centuries. 

The greatest part of the reign of Abdalrahman, and particularly 
the first years, were troubled by intestine factions and foreign 
invasions. The caliphs of Bagdad were not disposed to submit 
to a revolution which rent from the successors of Mahomet so 
fair a portion of their dominions, without strenuous efforts to 
reestablish their power in Spain. They fomented discontents 
among the emirs of the new cahph and the rival creed, and 
instigated the Moors of Africa to make a descent upon a territory 
of which ambition and sectarian fanaticism ahke forbad the 
separation from the rule of the commander of the faithful. 
Scarcely had Abdalrahman defeated and expelled the Moslem 
invaders in the south, when an enemy still more powerful, of a 
more hostile creed, appeared on his northern borders. 

History has preserved the names of the rebel emirs, traitors 
alike to their sovereign and their faith, Aben-al-Arabi, Abou-Taher, 
and Ben-Yousouf, who repaired to the court of Charlemagne and 
offered him their homage with the possession of the cities they 
governed on the frontier of Spain. Induced by their representa- 
tions, Charlemagne assembled a great force composed of two 
corps d'armees, which crossing the Pyrenees in two divisions were 
led in person by the Frank monarch into the Spanish march. As 
his first operation was to reduce Pampeluna and rase its walls, 
there seems reason to believe, what the Arabian historians assert 


and the great subsequent incident of the campaign appears to 
confirm, that the Navarrese, as well as the Gascons, were in 
alliance with the Saracens to resist an invasion which equally 
menaced the independence of all. 

The chronicles give a very summary account of the expedition. 
They represent Charlemagne as receiving the submission of Bar- 
celona, the chief city of those parts, and of the towns of Huesca 
and Girona ; but whether subdued by force of arms or delivered 
up by their traitorous governors does not exactly appear. How- 
ever, Charlemagne took hostages for their future allegiance, and, 
withdrawing his forces over the Pyrenees, was assaulted by the 
Gascons in his retreat at the pass of Roncesvalles. They threw 
his whole army into confusion, cutting off his rear guard to a 
man, including some of his most distinguished officers, among 
whom was Roland or Orlando, count of the Breton march. 

The Frank writers gloss over this defeat as a mere desultory 
attack of guerilla mountaineers, who were indebted for their par- 
tial success to the nature of the ground and to an ambush in the 
thick forest which covered the flanks of the Pyrenees. They 
magnify the fruits of the expedition as having effected the subju- 
gation of " all the cities of Spain," and they represent Charle- 
magne as returning conqueror of the Spaniards, the Gascons and 
the Navarrese ; though at the same time they speak of his " mis- 
adventure," in terms which seem to indicate, in covert phrase, the 
extent of his chagrin at the disastrous issue of his expedition. 

The Arabian historians declare that Charlemagne's army was 
ctefeated on its advance to the Ebro, and they agree with the 
romances of the middle ages in describing Mussulman and Chris- 
tian, Asturian and Gascon, as mingling their ranks at Roncesvalles 
on that fatal day which the muse of Ariosto has rendered for 
ever illustrious. The truth seems to be that the army of the 
Franks was in full retreat when it was attacked in the passes of 
the Pjnrenees ; an alliance having been formed by all the powers 
of Spain, however differing in other respects, to resist and expel 
the intrusive king. The attack on his rear was the result of this 
combination, of the danger of which he had become sensible when 
he hastened his retreat ; though the Frank chronicles attribute it 
to tidings he had received of the revolt of the Saxons under Witi- 
kind, demanding his immediate return. 


At all events, if in his dreams of universal empire Charlemagne 
seriously meditated the conquest of Spain, this signal reverse 
must have served to dissipate the illusion. But one can hardly 
conceive that he would have proclaimed a Champ de Maty and 
assembled two immense armies in France, merely to chastise the 
independent Gascons and Basques, and receive the submission, 
already pledged, of some cities on the Ebro. Ten centuries after- 
wards, the great hero of that age, the victorious leader who claim- 
ed the succession and aspired to follow in the steps of the first 
emperor of the French, met his first reverses on the soil of Spain ; 
the passes of the Pyrenees again witnessed the disasters of their 
retreating army, and, by a singular coincidence, it was from the 
plains of Saxony that the tidings came which recalled the impe- 
rial troops for the defence of the German frontier. 

After the retreat of Charlemagne, the caliph of Cordova immedi- 
ately regained possession of Barcelona and the other frontier 
towns, and the Spanish march remained as before debateable 
ground, the possession of which was always precarious and often 
nominal ; the emirs or counts transferring their allegiance to the 
Christian or the infidel power, as their interests for the time 

Relieved from the apprehension of foreign invasions, though re- 
bellions and insurrections, which he was often in arms to quell, 
did not allow him to enjoy much repose, Abdalrahman found 
leisure to cultivate the more congenial arts of peace. The sciences 
flourished under his enlightened protection ; for the caliph him- 
self was an accomplished prince, and is celebrated for a soft and 
insinuating eloquence, and a delicate vein of poetry, specimens of 
which are still extant. He embellished Cordova with stately 
buildings, surrounding it with immense fortifications, the remains 
of which are still seen ; and he laid the foundations of the great 
mosque, on the model of that of Damascus, which is now the 
Catholic cathedral ; but which he did not live to finish. He died 
in 788, full of years and of honoiu* ; '' principe prudente ed de 
mucho valor," as Mariana pithily sums up his character. 

He was succeeded by his son Haschem who in the early part 
of his reign successfully encountered the Asturian Christians, and 
reviving the claims of the Visigoth kings of Spain to the pro\dnce of 


Septimania, crossed the Pyrenees and defeated with great slaughter 
the troops which the count of Toulouse had levied against him. 
Having burnt the faubourgs of Narbonne, he withdrew into Spain, 
dragging into slavery a vast crowd of prisoners, and loaded with 
booty. The fruits of this expedition supplied him with the means 
of completing the great mosque at Cordova which had been begun 
by Abdalrahman. The roof of this magnificent building was sup- 
ported by 1500 columns of marble ; 24 gates of bronze, the 
principal of which was plated with solid gold, admitted the faith- 
ful ; and when at solemn festivals their devotions were prolonged 
into the watches of the night, 6000 lamps fed with fragrant oils 
shed a sweet perfume and a soft radiance over its vast area. The 
Catholic worshipper may still trace verses of the Koran inscribed 
on the walls, attesting the creed for which it was founded. He 
may shudder as they remind him of the infidel who for so many 
centuries held possession of his noble land, but in the lapse of a 
thousand years he may probably fail to remember the benefits 
which the supremacy of the Moslems conferred on Spain. 

Other magnificent buildings, a library, palaces, new streets, the 
noble bridge of twenty-seven arches over the Guadalquiver, repair- 
ed or reconstructed, made Cordova the most splendid of the 
European cities of that age. During the peaceful reign of 
Haschem, the other towns of Spain received similar embellishments, 
mosques were built and schools founded ; industry was encou- 
raged ; and following the wise and equitable administration of his 
fathers, justice was equally rendered, without distinction of creed, 
to Christians and Mahometans, the former of whom were conci- 
liated by toleration in the free exercise of their religion. 

During the troubled reign of El-Hakem, son of Haschem, the 
caliph's cruel and arrogant temper, wars on the frontier and the 
insurrections of rebellious emirs, interrupted for a while the 
tranquillity, and checked the rising prosperity, of the Saracen 
empire in Spain. It was during his reign that Lewis le Debonnaire 
led his father's troops against the infidels on the Spanish frontier, 
a sort of crusade congenial to his pious temperament. He con- 
ducted it with spirit and success, Barcelona being taken and its 
governor sent in chains to Aix-la-chapelle ; and the supremacy of 
the Franks was for a time reestablished in the Spanish march. 


But these advantages were short-lived, and the clouds which 
hung over Spain during the reign of Al-Hakem were dispelled 
when his son Abdalrahman the Second, a prince worthy of that 
great name, succeeded to the caliphate. He was received with 
acclamations by the people, whose confidence he had gained by 
the part he had taken in affairs during the misrule of his father 
Al-Hakem. The early part of the reign of Abdalrahman II was 
nearly cotemporaneous with that of Lewis le Debonnaire, but its 
aspect was widely different. A consummate general, as well as a 
wise and skilful politician, he recovered the losses which had been 
sustained on the frontier of the Ebro, retook Barcelona, and 
reestablished the ascendancy of the Saracens in the Spanish march. 
The incursions of the Christian princes of the Asturias and Navarre 
were restrained, and the Northmen, expelled from the coast of 
Lu&itania, never succeeded in gaining a footing in Spain. Musa^ 
the most formidable of the rebellious emirs, was reduced by the 
vigour of his arms, and Abdalrahman justly deserved the proud 
title of El-Mouzaffer, the '^ Victorious", by which he is known 
in the Arabian histories of Spain. 

But higher still is the glory which is attached to his name as 
the patron of science and the arts, and the promoter of every 
thing which could conduce to the improvement, the happiness, 
and the prosperity of his subjects. Poets and philosophers 
flocked to his court to do him honour, and lent their aid in 
diffusing the love of science and the arts among the Arabs of 
Spain. All the time he could spare from state affairs was devoted 
to conversation with the enlightened men who were admitted to 
his familiar intercourse. Music lent her aid, the marble halls 
and voluptuous gardens of the caliph and his nobles echoed with 
melody, romance and song ; and they formed the recreation of 
an imaginative people on the delicious banks of the Guadalquiver, 
the Guadiana, and the Tagus. Literature in all its branches, 
history, poetry, philosophy, unfolded the treasures of the past 
and occupied itself in preparing new offerings for future ages. 
Astronomy, child of the east, was transplanted to a still congenial 
climate ; chemistry and medicine revealed their secrets and saw a 
new school founded in the west; and the acute genius of the 
Arabs cultivated with success the abstruser sciences. 

Great indeed was the advance of the Arabs in every branch of 


intellectual science and every form of industrial art. That 
original and picturesque architecture, distinct alike from classic 
and Gothic models, the remains of which still attract and delight 
the traveller, embellished the cities of Spain. Colonies from 
Africa and Asia introduced the Nabathaean cultures, and to them 
she is indebted for the palm, the mulberry and the sugarcane, 
as well as for the system of irrigation taught by the Moors, which 
with the mechanical contrivances for raising water above its 
natural level, converted the arid slopes of the Sierras into luxu- 
riant gardens and fruitful vineyards. The mines of gold and 
silver, for which Spain had long been celebrated, were successfully 
worked ; pearl and coral fisheries were established on the coasts ; 
and every industrial process which could invite the labours of an 
intelligent people and the encouragement of an enlightened 
government, was diligently pursued. Under such circumstances, — 
with an impregnable frontier, exemption from foreign wars, 
civilization advancing and order and tranquillity maintained by 
the firm administration of a line of wise and prudent sovereigns — 
the Arabian kingdom in Spain was in the middle of the ninth 
century the richest and most populous of European countries.*' 

At the outset of our present undertaking, a summary glance on 
the course of affairs during the ninth century suggested certain 
marked epochs, corresponding with its natural divisions — and 
each of them distinguished by different phases of the political 
phoenomena, — as convenient points for our departure, for an 
intermediate rest, and for the final term of the enquiry. Two of 
them, fixed at the middle and the close of the century, had the 
further advantage of being nearly coincident with the dates of the 
birth and death of Alfred. 

Our first point of view, taken from the beginning of the cen- 
tury, exhibited the empire of the Franks, under Charlemagne, at 
the zenith of his power, in all its extent and integrity. Following 
the course of events during the reign of his successor Lewis le 
Debonnair, we have seen the sovereign power completely shat- 

(10) Mariana, Istoria. Cardonne Hiatoire de I'Afrique et de TEspagne sous la domina- 
tiou des Arabes. 

Eftsays 36 


tered, and the unity of the empire become nearly nominal. It 
expired with him ; and the results of the battle of Fontenay, with 
the treaties of the sons of Lewis for the partition of his dominions 
and for a mutual concert which vainly aimed to supply the place 
of the unity they had dissolved, have brought us to the close of 
the first half of the century. 

From thence taking our second general point of view, we find 
the empire of Charlemagne divided into three gi-eat kingdoms, 
with still inherent and growing tendencies to further dissolution, 
which will be developed in its progress to the final dismember- 
ment with which the century closed, and which is the term of 
our present essay. 

As however two important European kingdoms, branches of 
the former western empire, did not enter into the system of Charle- 
magne and his successors, they found no place in our review of 
events and influences connected with the Carlovingian empire. 
Of these two independent states, the Saracen caliphate in Spain 
was therefore reserved for a separate notice ; while of the state of 
the Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Britain at this period, the " Harmony 
of the Chronicles" and other portions of the present volumes 
will furnish ample and authentic records. 

But it must be also remembered that at the time to which our 
survey of European affairs is now brought, Alfred the Anglo- 
Saxon king comes, — so to speak, upon the stage of history ; and 
though, as we have already remarked, his relations with the con- 
tinental states were but slight, it cannot be supposed that a prince 
of his enlightened character was an unobservant spectator of 
events which were changing the face of Europe. The expedition 
he sent forth to penetrate into the far East, and his own notes on 
the voyage of Othere * into unknown regions towards the North- 
pole, bespeak an extended range of observation which could not 
have overlooked the revolutions of neighbouring states. Al&ed 
must have retained some personal recollections of European 
courts, and in his earlier years was connected with the family 

(1) Industry and civilization must have made some progress in these early times in the 
Scandinavian peninsula, for Othere speaks of a herd of 600 tame rein-deer. Travellers 
who at this day find such herds depasturing on the higher Fjelds, and wonder how they 
have been reclaimed, may learn that a thousand years ago tame deer were used as 


of Charles the Bald through Judith his step-mother, a daughter 
of that prince. She afterwards married Baldwin the powerful 
count of Flanders and her relationship with Alfred was renewed 
by the marriage of Baldwin II her son with Elfrida, Alfred's 
daughter. It may be observed, in passing, that in these alliances 
may be traced the first connexion, — afterwards so intimate both 
politically and commercially, — ^between the English and the in- 
dustrious Flemings, who were already rising to wealth and impor- 
tance under the prosperous reigns of Baldwin and his successors, 
counts of Flanders. 

It has been not unreasonably supposed that Alfred himself 
furnished supplies of historical matter for the Saxon chronicle, 
that exact record of national occurrences which also contains 
frequent notice of important events in the Frankish kingdoms, and 
in some instances gives details which show an intimate acquaint- 
ance with political influences beyond the mere record of exterior 
events. At any rate we cannot suppose Alfred to have been less 
informed than the annalist of his own reign and country, as to 
what was passing in the rest of Europe. We have no exact means 
of knowing how the communication between the two sides of the 
channel was maintained ; but we have abundant evidence in the 
continental collections how wide was the correspondence maintain- 
ed between enlightened men of different countries during that 
period of great intellectual movement as well as of vast political 
changes. There were also frequent joumies undertaken by church- 
men and other members of the Anglo-Saxon community to Rome, 
the centre of all intrigues, the resort of all nations. 

Scarcely a year passed that Alfred did not send messengers of 
high rank to the holy see with offerings of devotion and expressions 
of respect for the person of the reigning pope, receiving in return 
marks of the esteem and consideration in which he was held. 
Queen Ethelswith his sister died and was buried at Pavia in her 
way to Rome in 888, a year memorable for the dismemberment 
of the empire and its division into a number of independent 
kingdoms : of which one of those accurate entries in the Anglo- 
Saxon chronicle just referred to gives a very particular account. 
We feel justified therefore in assuming — and it is not an uninterest- 
ing thought to accompany us in following the course of events 


during the remainder of the century — that while Alfred with 
singleness of heart was consolidating the security and order of his 
own sea-girt dominions, he watched with interest those ceaseless 
changes and divisions which the faithless policy and the restless 
ambition of his brother kings, and the animosities of their imper- 
fectly amalgamated peoples, combined to effect in the distribution 
of territory and power on the continent of Europe during his own 
more fortunate career. 

Neither the equitable partition of the empire made pursuant to 
the treaty of Verdun nor the family compact of Mersen, again 
and again renewed, succeeded in establishing the peace of Europe. 
It was still the theatre of conflicting interests ; and pressed on the 
east by tribes of the Sclavonian race, on the shores of the channel 
by the invading Northmen, and on the south by the Saracens of 
Africa and Spain, it was impossible that society in any country 
should become settled and regulated. Each of the Frank kings 
was harassed in turn by intestine disturbances and frontier irrup- 
tions — and, as there was no real union and mutual cooperation, 
each was left to fight his own battle. 

In the division of the empire, the claims of the younger Pepin 
to the kingdom of Aquitaine had been set aside in favour of his 
uncle Charles the Bald. But Pepin was at no loss to find adherents 
among the turbulent barons of his father's territories ; and, un- 
scrupulous in his alliances, the infidel Saracens of Spain and the 
pagan Northmen were arrayed under his banners with the hardy 
Britons of the duke Nomenoe and the troops of Sancho king of 
Navarre, and of the powerful dukes and counts of Toulouse and 
Barcelona, all ready to assist in the dismemberment of the empire. 
Alternately restored and expelled, a king and a fugitive, escaping 
from the monastery in which he had been immured, and the ton- 
sure, it was supposed, had sealed his political death, the young 
pretender's spirit and enterprise enabled him for several years to 
maintain an unequal contest and embroil the very heart of his 
uncle's dominions in his repeated attempts to assert his rights. 

In Italy, another young prince of the blood of Charlemagne, 
Louis, eldest son of the emperor Lothaire, exhibited equal spirit, 
attended with greater success* in defence of the imperial rights 


and the kingdom of which he had received the investiture from 
his father Lothaire. He chastised the seditious populace of 
Rome for electing a pope without the emperor's participation : 
struggled with vigour to reduce to submission the powerful and 
almost independent duke of Beneventum ; and harassed the Moorish 
pirates of Africa who had penetrated as far as Rome, burnt the 
suburbs, and carried off the sacred vessels from the shrine of the 
apostles. Formidable in their flight as in their advance, they 
fought the Franks before they reached their ships, and the booty 
of Rome perished in the shipwreck of their fleet. 

But the capital of Christendom owed its salvation as much to 
the heroism of the pope Leo IV, as to the valour of the imperial 
troops. Bom a Roman, the courage of the first ages of the 
republic glowed in his bosom. He repaired the walls and armed 
and animated the citizens for their defence. The splendid and 
useful reign of Leo IV is rendered particularly memorable by his 
having surrounded with walls the quarter of the Vatican, which 
was formed by the strangers who gradually settled about the 
tombs of the apostles and afterwards called the Leonine city. 
A pope of such distinguished merit was worthy of being the 
spiritual father of Alfred the Anglo-Saxon king, who when a 
child was sent to Rome attended by an honourable escort, and 
having been received by Leo as his adopted son in the rite of 
confirmation was also consecrated and anointed king, and sent 
back, we are told, to his country, with the blessing of St Peter the 

855. Two years ' afterwards we find the young prince again at 
Rome, in company with his father Ethelwulf, who loved him, as 
we are informed, more than his other sons, and treating him with 
this distinction and causing him to be consecrated king at so 
early an age — seems to have given an augury of hjs future 
preeminence. Ethelwulf and the young prince, attended by a 
splendid retinue of Anglo-Saxon nobles, in passing through 
France, were hospitably entertained by the wise and accomplished 
Grimbald ; and the king Charles the Bald, receiving them with 

(2) A passage inserted in a later edition of the Saxon Chronicle and given in the 
" Harmony," p. 18, suggest a doubt whether Alfred did not remain at Rome during thit 
interval, or even till after the death of Ethelwulf. This version would remove some 
difficulties, but it is at variance with all the other authorities. 


honour, caused them to be conducted through his dominions with 
every respectful attention. Ethelwulf bore rich presents to the 
shrines of the apostles, and was received with the distinction 
which his piety and munificence demanded. The royal pilgrims 
spent a whole year at Rome, diligently occupied in prayers and 
alms-deeds. Nor was the Anglo-Saxon king unmindful of the 
interests of his people ; for he rebuilt the English college or 
school founded by king Ina, which had been destroyed by fire 
some years before and for which Alfred, not unmindful, obtained 
some immunities in after times. Ethelwulf also, observing the 
penitents and exiles degraded by wearing in publics fetter of iron, 
procured a decree that no Englishman should undergo that 

It was an eventful year that the English princes spent at 
Rome. Leo IV died in the month of July or August, and Alfred 
may have arrived in time to receive the last blessing of the aged 
pontiff who two years before adopted him as his son in confir- 
mation, and gave him the kingly title and unction. It is not 
improbable that the penetrating mind of Leo had detected the 
germs of premature thought and intellect in the Anglo-Saxon 
prince, for whom he appears to have conceived a sincere regard. 
Whether Alfred arrived in time to receive the blessing or knelt 
over the newly closed tomb of his illustrious friend^— yoimg as he 
was, he could not have passed through such scenes unmoved. 
And then followed the election and inauguration of the new pope, 
attended with all that magnificent and stately ceremonial, bor- 
rowed from antient usages, with which Rome has always dignified 
her solemn offices. The presence of the Anglo-Saxon princes 
gave additional splendour to the gorgeous pageant. Nor were 
scenes of a different character wanting. The displeasure of the 
emperors Lothaire and Lewis at the election of Benedict • having 

(3) Benedict IV was consecrated in the month of September. It is a curious circum- 
stance that king Alfred was at Rome at the very time, which is commonly assigned for the 
election of the female pope, who, known as Pope Joan, is said to have filled the papal 
chair on the death of Leo IV, — a scandal, if such it be, not invented by prutestants, for 
the story was current in the Roman church long before the reformation. It has all the 
character of a romance, and is evidently one of those monkish legends which composed the 
popular reading of the middle ages. The heroine of the tale was of English extraction, and 
her love — as in modern fictions, that essential element was not wanting — for a young monk, 
also a countryman of Alfred's, gives interest to the first scenes of the drama. Her elopement in 
male attire and admission as a monk into the monastery of Fulda, the escape of the guilty 
couple, their jourueyiugs to Athens and to Rome, — the poignancy of her grief at the Ion of 


been made without the imperial sanction occasioned the nomi- 
nation of a rival pope, who was supported by a faction of the 
populace with all that violent turbulence for which the people of 
Rome were distinguished. Benedict was obhged to flee, after 
personal ill-treatment, from the fury of the faction ; but the 
firmness of the bishops prevailed, and his return in triumph restored 

It was an eventful year ; the emperor as well as the pope was 
niunbered with the dead during the pilgrimage of the royal Anglo- 
Saxons. Feeling that his death was approaching, the conscience 
of Lothaire became alarmed at a retrospect of the enormous 
crimes of which he had been guilty — perjury, murder and well 
nigh parricide. He retired to the monastery of Pruim, and, 
assuming the habit of a monk, waited with trembling apprehen- 
sion the approach of the king of terrors. The horrors of his 
death-bed appalled the brotherhood. The monks relate the con- 
test between the good and evil angels for his departing soul ; but 
declare that their prayers prevailed.* In his son Lewis, the new 
emperor, fourth of his family, the Romans hailed their saviour 
and defender, and Alfred may have been admitted to familiar 
intercourse with a prince in many respects worthy of his imitation. 
The valour and patriotism of Lewis endeared their king to the 
people of Italy, and his death, after a long reign, left them a prey 
to the factions and wars which attend a disputed inheritance. 

Whatever interest Alfred may have taken in the scenes accom- 
panying the political occurrences which took place during his 
residence at Rome, there can be no doubt but his opening mind 

her lover, and the sanctity arising from her profound melancholy, which, joined to her 
reputation for learning, paved the way for her subsequent elevation — all betray the real 
character of the stor}'. Nor were there wanting touches of that coarse humour which we 
find in the carvings and ** illustrations " of the age. What can be more ludicrous than 
the story of the ** perforated chair " which forms the episode of the tale, — invented proba- 
bly from an antient sedile of marble, used in bathing, some treasure of art from the ruins 
of the baths of Hadrian or Dioclesian, being made use of in the inauguration of the popes 
— and the scene to which it gave rise? " Mas est," cried the deacon to the solemn assem- 
bly. *' Deo gratias ! " responded the bishops and clergy. 

(4) Chronicle of Father Richard. In Chron. Sithiensi Sti Bertini, the contest is de- 
scribed more graphically ; " ita ut circum stantibus corpus ejus trahi et detrahi videretur ; 
sed monachis orantibus, dsmones sunt fatigati." This was written in the 14th century : 
the <*pull monk, pull devil," is an instance of additional embellishment, several centuries 
afterwards, not uncommon in such records. 


must have been powerfully affected by the display of the choicest 
and most perfect productions of skill and industry which either 
the eastern or western world could offer, assembled in the capi- 
tal of Christendom, as well as by the monuments of antient art 
which surrounded him on every side. The great object of inte- 
rest and devotion to the pilgrims of those days were the tombs of 
the apostles St Peter and St Paul on the Vatican hill, without the 
antient walls of Rome, but round which Leo IV had just drawn a 
line of defence. Those consecrated shrines were not yet spanned 
by the wondrous dome raised over them by the genius of Buona- 
rotti, but the traveller of our days may follow the footsteps of the 
Saxon princes to many a basilica which after the lapse of a thou- 
sand years retains the primitive form and the antient structure of 
the first ages of the church. One edifice, in particular, the devo- 
tion of which to sacred uses was then comparatively recent, could 
not fail of being visited with peculiar interest, as even now it 
attracts the notice of every thoughtful pilgrim from our northern 
isle. We speak of the house of Gregory the Great, the residence 
of the Anician family, converted by himself into a church and 
monastery, where the hall in which he daily fed the indigent, and 
other relics of his piety and munificence, are still shewn; — of 
Gregory the spiritual father of a long line of Anglo-Saxon princes 
and like Leo IV, whose memory was yet fresh, the saviour of 
Rome from barbarian spoliation. 

If turning from the Christian antiquities we follow the footsteps 
of Alfred among the purer remains of antient art, the temples, 
the amphitheatres, the triumphal arches, which have survived the 
casualties of so many revolutions, we may easily believe that 
many a precious relic which disappeared during the intestine 
tumults of Rome in the middle ages, or was worked up in the 
construction of the fortified palaces of her turbulent nobles, met 
the wondering eyes of the yoimg Anglo-Saxon prince, erect in all 
its original beauty and grandeur. 

Was Alfred fully impressed with the interest attending these 
imperishable records of past times ? did he associate with thera 
the former glories of the masters of the world ? Perhaps not : of 
mere book-learning we are informed he was ignorant for several 
years afterwards, but we are of the number of those who think 


that its value may be much over-rated, and that nothing more 
tends to expand the youthful mind than familiar association with 
persons of superior intelligence and the opportunities for observa- 
tion which travel, and particularly foreign travel, affords. These 
the young Alfred fully enjoyed, and among other instances of 
early developement which the records of the times afford us, we 
are not willing to believe that having these opportunities, — with 
great natural abilities, and the noble spirit already moving within 
him, — Alfred wandered in ignorance among the striking remains 
of antient grandeur, while neither the learned Grimbald nor 
the enlightened men of the courts of Charles the Bald and Leo 
the Fourth, nor any of his compatriots in the Anglo-Saxon school 
at Rome, took the pains of informing his young mind and satisfy- 
ing his curiosity respecting the mighty race whose history was 
connected with the relics of the past to which he was twice con- 
ducted. One thing we do know, — that when in after years he ad- 
dressed himself to the task of instructing his unlettered subjects, 
the remains of Roman civilization were the fountains to which he 
had recourse, and it is easy to conceive from what recollections 
he drew the inspiration. 

We leave Ethelwulf and Alfred to spend the year at Rome 
while we turn to what was passing in other parts of the empire. 
Lothaire, violating even in his death-bed repentance a solemn con- 
stitutional law which had decreed in a national assembly that 
there should be no further sub-division of the imperial dominions, 
divided his states between his three sons. He bequeathed to 
Lewis the eldest, already associated in the title of emperor, the 
kingdom of Italy. To his second son Lothaire, he gave the 
provinces between the Rhine and the Alps, — the Cis-Rhenane 
Austrasia, henceforth called from him Lotharingia or Lorraine. 
To Charles his youngest son were allotted the provinces on the 
Rhone, part of the antient kingdom of Burgundy, in right of 
which he assumed the title of king of Provence. Two new 
kingdoms were thus added to the three into which the empire 
was divided by the partition treaty of Verdun, and new elements 
of strife were introduced among the posterity of Charlemagne. 

In France a faction of the Aquitanians, the people between the 
Seine and the Loire, who appear more than any other of the popu- 

£M«yi 37 


lation of Gaul to have been impatient of regular government and 
given to change, had invited Lewis the German, to accept the 
crown of Aquitaine, but that prince was too much occupied in 
defending his frontier against the Bohemians and Moravians to 
listen at present to their offer. The pretender Pepin had been 
expelled, and tendering their allegiance to Charles the Bald, to 
whom the kingdom had been allotted in the division of the empire, 
the counts and nobles of Aquitaine requested him to give them 
his young son Charles for king, but " despising his youth," they 
soon repented their choice, and Pepin was restored. The disaffec- 
tion was not confined to Aquitaine but throughout the whole of 
France the counts, becoming every day more powerful and inde- 
pendent, were continually in a state of insubordination. To 
add to the misery and anarchy of the kingdom ; the Northmen, no 
longer satisfied with their annual piracies on the coasts, were pene- 
trating, by the Loire and the Seine, into the interior of the 
country, occupying Rouen and Orleans, and carrying fire and 
sword through whole districts. No one felt himself secure from 
their ravages, and from the weakness of the government and the 
want of concert between the king and his nobles, there was no 
organization which could make head against the invaders. 

Ethelwulf returning from Rome in the autumn of 856 claimed 
the hand of Judith the daughter of Charles the Bald which had 
been already promised him. In his future step-mother — who 
was of years scarcely marriageable — and her brother Charles, the 
boy-king of Aquitaine who had now returned from his mockery 
of a government in that turbulent province, Alfred must have 
found congenial associates. The court of Charles the Bald^ not- 
withstanding the troubles of the times, was distinguished for the 
enlightened men which the patronage of Charles drew round him, 
and the school of the palace in which the royal children were edu- 
cated was illustrious for the ardour with which learning and 
science were cultivated. Judith herself to great personal charms, 
added attainments far beyond the usual range of small accomplish- 
ments. Captivated by her wit and beauty, the aged and pious 
Ethelwulf was probably led to commit a great imprudence^ to say 
the least, in contracting so unseemly and disproportioned an union, 
for Judith was now scarcely thirteen years old. Her future 
career was far from creditable, and she seems to have inherited 


not only the talent and the grace, but other very questionable in- 
gredients in the character of her namesake and grandmother the 
empress Judith, wife of Lewis le Debonnaire. 

We are however inclined to think that whatever difficulties may 
lie in the way of admitting the commonly received opinion which 
assigns to Judith the first important steps in the education of 
Alfred, — and however her tender years may have incapacitated her 
for performing the more serious duties of a step-mother towards 
a youth but little younger than herself, — the connection was highly 
favourable to the developement of the intellectual character of 
the young prince. Their relations from the first must have very 
much resembled those of brother and sister ; and, sad to say, 
such soon became, on the death of Ethelwiilf, their actual position. 
The influence of an accomplished elder sister, in all the free inter- 
course to which their near relationship gave occasion, on the 
opening mind of Alfred must have been great ; while to Judith, 
transplanted from the most polished court and enlightened school 
in Europe to the ungenial atmosphere of the Anglo-Saxon king- 
dom and the society of its uncivilized nobles, the companionship 
of Alfred, fresh from the vivid impressions of foreign travel, must 
have proved a source of reciprocal satisfaction and have drawn 
forth all her stores of information. 

However this may be, the nuptials of Ethelwulf and Judith 
were celebrated at the palace of Verberie with a magnificence which 
little indicated the perplexities of a tottering government and a 
realm's decay. In Hincmar the archbishop of Rheims, who gave 
the nuptial benediction, the youthful Alfred saw the greatest states- 
man, the most powerful subject, and the most enlightened, if not 
the profoundest, scholar, of the age. The ritual, composed for 
the occasion, is still extant, and its pure, majestic and solemn tone 
is worthy of the best ages of the Church. The fondness of Ethel- 
wulf for his beautiful bride, or the pretensions of the Frank coiut, 
required that, contrary to the usages of the kingdom of Wessex, 
Judith should be received as queen as well as wife, and, anointed 
and crowned by Hincmar, she took her place on the throne by the 
side of her royal husband. 

Returning to his own country, the Anglo-Saxon nobles and 
people, devotedly attached to Ethelwulf , acquiesced in the unusual 


arrangement and received Judith as their queen. Their arrival 
served at once to dissolve the traitorous conspiracy which his 
eldest son Ethelbald had formed against his authority during his 
absence. But the clemency of Ethelwolf and the wise policy of 
his nobles allotted to Ethelbald the western part of his father's 
dominions in order to prevent the irremediable evil of a son warring 
against his father, or rather ^' of the whole nation carrying on civil 
war, either on the one side or the other." ' The German customs, 
common alike to the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, justified this 
partition, but we hear of no further attempts at usurpation, or 
family divisions, among the Anglo-Saxon princes ; and it was to 
the union of the three brothers after the death of Ethelwulf, and 
more especially to Alfred's magnanimous postponement of his own 
pretensions and Ethelred's ultimate good faith, that their country 
owed its power of resisting with so much determination the inva- 
sions of the Danes. 

On the contrary, it is to the total want of moral principle in 
the Frank princes, their unnatural animosities and disregard of 
the most solemn treaties and family compacts, — ^intrigues renewed 
on every fresh succession, — ^that we may attribute, above all other 
causes, the decay of the sovereign power, and the final disruption 
of the European commonwealth. This fatal propensity appears 
to have run in the blood of the descendants of Charlemagne : 
each of them not only conceived himself intitled by birth to be a 
king, but was ready to grasp, as opportunity offered, at every 
addition of territory which his ambition prompted, no matter by 
what means, or at whose expence : and unfortunately the feelings 
and the interests of the people of the several European states but 
too well seconded the projects of the princes. 

The dissensions among the sons of Lewis le Debonnaire which 
broke up the empire into three great kingdoms were renewed on 
a lesser scale upon the death of the emperor Lothaire, and the 
subdivision of his third share between his sons Lewis, Lothaire and 
Charles. Their squabbles, their reconciliation, and the adjustment of 
their claims demand no further notice in a dissertation such as this. 
They are of less importance, as the two new kingdoms of Lorraine 
and Provence were very shortly absorbed, on the death of the 

(1) Asser ; in the Harmony &c. p. 20 of this volume. 


young kings Lothaire and Charles without issue, in the greater 
kingdoms. But, here again, the grasping ambition of the princes 
of the house of Charlemagne was eminently exhibited ; for, instead 
of being reunited in the person of Lewis, the natural heir to the 
third portion of the empire from which they had been severed, 
those kingdoms were now divided between his imcles, Lewis the 
German and Charles the Bald. 

Nor did these two more powerful princes, though they acted in 
concert in this spoliation, respect the integrity of their own se- 
veral dominions as established by the treaty of Verdun. It 
has been already mentioned that the rebellious Aquitanians had 
offered to transfer their allegiance from Charles to Lewis; but 
the latter, occupied by his wars against the Sclaves, had hitherto 
been only able, in compliance with those overtures, to send his 
son Lewis into Aquitaine where he made no permanent impression. 
Lewis the German, however, watched his opportunity, and while 
Charles the Bald was embarrassed by the incursions of the North- 
men, he led his German Franks across the Rhine, and was joined 
by the rebellious counts of Neustria, Aquitaine and Brittany. 
Charles unable to face such a formidable combination, though he 
assembled some forces and the armies of the two brothers were 
in presence near Brienne, was compelled to flee, and Lewis pos- 
sessed himself of nearly the whole of his dominions, rewarding 
his adherents by the distribution of abbies and royal domains. 

But the power which had interposed between the brothers in 
arms after the battle of Fontenay, and proposed or dictated terms 
for the great settlement of European affairs which was carried 
into effect by the treaty of Verdun, again interfered. The bishops 
assembled in the council of Metz, deputed three of their number, 
in 859, to threaten Lewis with the censures of the church for the 
crime of which he had been guilty in invading his brother's 
kingdom and exposing it to the ravages of his army. Lewis sub 
mitted to the judgment of the bishops, humbly " begging " that, if 
in any thing he had offended them, they would be good enough 
to pardon him, so that he might proceed to speak in safety with 
them. Their threats and remonstrances preserved the kingdoms 
of Neustria and Aquitaine for Charles the Bald, who on his part 
acknowledged his abject dependence upon the bishops at the 


council of Savonnieres held shoitly afterwards to restore peace 
between the kings of the Franks. " After being elected by you," 
he said to the assembled Fathers, *'and the other bishops and 
faithful nobles of the realm, and consecrated king according to 
the traditions of the church, I ought neither to have been de- 
throned nor supplanted without having been heard and judged 
by the bishops, by whose ministration I have been consecrated 
king, and who have been called the thrones of the Divinity. In 
them God sits, and through them he renders judgement. At all 
times I have shown myself ready to submit to their paternal cor- 
rections and castigatory judgments — and I am so now." 

In the times of Lewis le Debonnaire we saw the bishops of 
Neustria sitting in judgement on the emperor, condemning him 
to a public and disgraceful penance, degrading him from his rank, 
and again restoring him to power, when it seemed fit to them. 
We have since seen them interfere on two memorable occasions 
to hold the balance between rival kings, and virtually dictate the 
terms on which their differences were adjusted. In short, we 
are alive to the fact of the complete ascendancy of the church at 
this period. But it must not be confounded with the domination 
of the papacy, the era of which had not just arrived, and to the 
growth of which it was opposed. Nor can the subject be dis- 
missed with a sneer at the superstition of the age, and the en- 
croaching and selfish spirit of the church. For any survey of 
the revolutions of the ninth century must be imperfect which 
does not convey some idea of the origin, the nature, and the 
influences on government and society, whether for good or evil, 
of the power which we have seen so signally exerted and have 
represented as so completely predominant. 

We speak of the continental states ; for circumstances were 
different in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms where the clergy had not 
yet risen above their proper level. The bishops, indeed, had an 
influential voice in the national assemblies, and sat with the 
temporal magistrates in administering justice in the county courts. 
They were the counsellors of the sovereign, and were employed 
in important affah^ of state. The clergy were already an estate 
of the realm. But the free institutions of the Anglo-Saxons were 
favourable to the maintenance of the balance of power, and all 
minds and interests were so absorbed in the one great object of 


defending the country, that no class thought of trenching on the 
province of another. Nor were the personal characters of those 
who were at the head of affairs in church and state such as 
tended to disturb this equihbrium. The bishops were not intri- 
guing or ambitious, and the kings did not expose themselves by 
their vices to the censures of the church. It may be said that 
Ethelwulf was in many respects the counterpart of Lewis the 
Pious ; but Alfred and Edward the Elder were kings of too much 
energy of character to allow any scope for ecclesiastical ascen- 
dancy. It was not till the times of Odo and Dunstan and the 
feeble reigns of such kings as Edred and Edwy and Edward the 
Martyr, that the royal power in England was prostrated at the 
feet of the bishops, as it had been a century before in the other 
states of Europe. 

It has been already remarked that, on the fall of the western 
empire, the Church was the only guardian of what remained of 
the Roman civilization. The bishops and clergy formed the link 
between the new barbarian sovereignty and the populations on 
which it was intruded. They attached themselves to the former 
for the restoration of unity and order ; they used their influence 
for the protection of the latter, with which they were intimately 
connected, against the tyranny of their new masters who appro- 
priated to themselves almost all the property, and would have 
arrogated all the authority in the conquered states, if brute force 
alone could have accomplished it. But knowledge is power ; the 
clei^ were the depositaries of whatever learning and intelligence 
had escaped the irruption of barbarism; the cities and tovms 
which surrounded the cathedrals and greater abbies were the nur- 
series of industry and the arts, and the refuge of the better class 
of the free native populations which sought to escape the domina- 
tion of the new lords of the soil. In these municipalities were 
preserved the memory, and in some sort the enjoyment, of those 
civil institutions which had secured to them a certain degree of 
freedom even under the despotism of the Roman emperors. As 
the senate and people of Rome had, under similar circumstances, 
sheltered themselves under the wings of the popes, investing them 
by their voluntary submission with an authority which was 
reflected back in benefits to themselves, so did these provincial 
municipalities find patrons and protectors in the bishops and supe- 


nor clergy with whom they were locally connected. Every where 
the bishops became the representatives of whatever remained 
of nationality in the conquered territories. All other powers in 
the state were alien and intrusive. 

But the native populations, when their subjugation had been 
effected by the sword, had to be governed by civil authority. 
They had retained the privilege of having justice administered 
to them after the forms and upon the principles of the Roman 
jxuisprudence, instead of according to the barbarous and unwritten 
customs of their conquerors. This was another element of power 
in the clergy, among whom, almost exclusively, juridical science 
was cultivated. The general ignorance of the Frank nobles, and 
their contempt for every profession but that of arms, caused 
many of the functions of the magistracy, even as to police and 
civil causes, to be delegated to the bishops and clergy in their 
several jurisdictions ; and the same causes drew the most eminent 
and intelligent members of the order round the person of the 
sovereign, as his counsellors and agents in all great affairs of 

Their personal interests, withal, had not been neglected ; for 
the Frank kings were profuse in grants to the bishops and abbots 
which placed them as to revenue and territorial influence upon 
a footing of equality with the counts and nobles. The enfran- 
chisement of their villains, and the superior cultivation of their 
estates, made the churchmen the most popular, as well as the 
richest, members of the landed aristocracy. 

In addition, then, to their spiritual authority — of which there 
is no need to speak — and to their influence as the natural repre- 
sentatives of the native populations, the bishops and superior 
clergy of those times acquired vast temporal power as enlightened 
statesmen and magistrates, as well as great proprietors. 

The penetrating mind of Charlemagne had not failed to per- 
ceive the advantages to be derived from the cooperation of the 
church in his great designs for promoting the fusion the civiliza- 
tion and the well ordering of the heterogeneous populations of 
which his accumulated states were composed. During his reign 
there was the strictest alliance between church and state. But 


while he invested the clergy with power and privilege, and 
enriched them with munificent endowments, he carefully retained 
the reins of power, and if there was any encroachment on their 
respective provinces, it was on the part of the emperor who with- 
out hesitation decided, proprio motu, on questions which be- 
longed exclusively to the spiritual jurisdiction. 

The intimate alliance between the two powers was maintained 
under the successors of Charlemagne ; but with this difference, 
that in the decadence of the temporal sovereignty the church 
retained all the advantages she had received, rose more and more 
to the supremacy which the progress of events marked out for 
her, and instead of the handmaid, became the mistress of kings. 
While they were engaged in internecine wars, the counts were 
insubordinate, the peoples antagonistic, and kingdoms shattered, 
the church alone in her hierarchical constitution was the model of 
order and unity, and maintained with vigor her corporate and 
independent existence, when every other power was in a state of 
dissolution. The dissensions of the princes, the grand children of 
Charlemagne, raised her to the rank of arbiter in their quarrels ; 
their perfidies and crimes enabled her to assume the attitude of 
their judge ; and their impotence impelled them to have recourse 
to her as their patron and protector against the turbulence of 
their subjects. The government of the Prankish kingdoms, from 
the latter years of Lewis le Debonnair, was in fact an ecclesiastical 
aristocracy ; though the bishops did not ostensibly exhibit their 
power except upon great occasions, when to rebuke or sit in judg- 
ment upon the misconduct of kings — however usurped an autlior- 
ity — was admitted to be their prerogative of divine right. In*the 
ordinary administration of affairs, their part was that of counsel- 
lors and delegates of the sovereign, whose person and attributes 
were invested with all the respectful homage which the traditions 
of the church derived from their relations with the Christian 

It has been intimated that the ascendancy of the clergy was not 
founded merely on a blind and ignorant superstition. There 
was enough of that doubtless, in the temper of the age, but the 
spiritual power never could have acquired the consistency it did, 
nor carried with it the concurrent assent of society, unless it had 

E»My» 38 


been based on great moral principles and exercised for salutary 
purposes. The age was not arrived when mailed bishops were 
marshalled in the ranks of contending armies, and the vices of the 
clergy were a scandal to their order. The discipline of the church 
had been restored and was maintained with vigour. The schools of 
the monasteries were encouraged ; architecture, music, agriculture, 
all the arts and processes of industry which had survived the 
barbarism of preceding centuries and were struggling against its 
new aggressions, found their refuge in the bosom of the Church 
and were mainly connected with its functions. All movement, 
moral and intellectual, was in the clergy, and a power thus usefully 
employed — ^which could rebuke the vices of kings, step in between 
them when armies were in presence, and cause them to sheath 
their fratricidal swords, — a power which was essentially national 
and was ready to maintain the independence and interests of 
national kingdoms, — could not fail of being respected. 

We are accustomed to associate with the ambition of the clergy 
ideas of the narrow and scholastic range of their own attainments 
and the desire to stifle all free enquiry by others, which are not 
altogether applicable to the times of which we treat. The most 
eminent ecclesiastics were greatly indebted for their moral and 
social preeminence to their enlightened character as statesmen, 
taking large views and having great experience in political affairs. 
Even as churchmen, questions of faith and doctrine had become 
so complex and difficult, and rules of discipline and the relations 
of the church with civil society so extensive and complicated, that 
much general information and a great developement of mind were 
required in those who took part in the administration of affairs. 
Scarcely a year passed without ecclesiastical councils and synods, 
the debates of which sharpened the intellect and kept alive the 
intelligence which dealt both with spiritual and temporal affairs, — 
alike the subject of discussion and included in the decrees of those 

In the reign of Charles the Bald, about the period to which our 
review has now brought us, two great religious questions divided 
the opinions and called into exercise the keenest faculties of the 
theologians of France. One, proposed by Pascasius, abbot of 
Corbie, had reference to the nature and manner of the divine 


presence in the Holy Eucharist. The other controversy, raised by 
Gotteschalk a German monk, involved the unfathomable ques- 
tions of the divine prescience and the freedom of the human will. 
The subject belongs to the intellectual or literary rather than to 
the political history of the age, and we advert to it only for the 
purpose of remarking the free and extensive range of thought with 
which these intricate questions were canvassed. In the fierce 
encounter bishop was engaged against bishop, and council against 
council. John the Scot, an Irishman from the isle of saints, 
master of the school of the palace and the intimate friend of 
Charles the Bald, who was invited by Hincmar to defend the 
orthodox faith, in treating of these abstruse subjects boldly 
asserted the right of private judgment. Without directly attacking 
the popular belief, he advocated the claims of reason to inquire 
for itself, and gave the first impulse to the movement of intel- 
lectual liberty which, after a long struggle, succeeded in setting 
free the human mind from the shackles of an imreasoning and 
implicit submission to authority. 

It is probable that John Erigena exceeded his commission ; for 
Gotteschalk experienced harsh treatment at the hands of Hincmar. 
But it is as a statesman, rather than as a theologian, that we have 
to deal with the character of the greatest churchman of the age. 
Descended from a noble family of Aquitaine, the early part of 
Hinemar*s life was divided between the court and the cloister ; in 
both of which he displayed so much ability and discretion that 
Charles the Bald attached him to his interests and raised him in 
845 to the archiepiscopal see of Rheims, the highest ecclesiastical 
dignity in his dominions. He had now full scope for the exercise 
of his great talents ; indeed for the greater part of his public life, 
a period of nearly forty years, he may be said to have governed 
France, as well as to have exercised an important influence in the 
other European kingdoms, maintaining an extensive correspon- 
dence with all the most eminent persons of the age. 

Haughty and imperious in temper, and possessed of high 
notions of the authority of the church, Hincmar does not appear, 
as far as we are able to gather from his correspondence and the 
other records of the times, to have formed any express design 
to lower the royal authority or to build upon its ruins the ascen- 
dancy of the church. The part he took seemed rather to have 


been forced upon him by external circumstances; and his zeal 
was directed equally — as a faithful minister of the crown — to the 
promotion of Charles's interest both in foreign and domestic 
affairs, and the good government and defence of his dominions, 
and, — as a spiritual chief — to the maintenance of the liberties of 
the national church, of which he is esteemed, the founder. These 
he strenuously asserted against all encroachments of kings on 
the one hand, and popes on the other ; and the tendency of the 
age to the distribution of power and territory amongst an increas- 
ing number of independent communities, coincided with the 
efforts of Hincmar to maintain the rights of national churches 
and their bishops and metropolitans. 

Though the supremacy of the popes was thus postponed, they 
did not suffer their pretensions to be altogether dormant ; and 
the times of which we treat afford several memorable instances 
both of their success and of their failure, when they seized occasions 
to extend the rights of the holy see beyond the limits within 
which it had been hitherto confined. When the sons of Lewis le 
Debonnair were in arms against him, and pope Gregory IV, ex- 
pousing their cause, came to their camp in Alsace, a report was 
spread that he intended to excommunicate the emperor and the 
bishops of France if they did not submit to his decision of the 
quarrel ; but the bishops indignantly retorted that if the pontiff 
came to excommunicate, he should return excommunicated.* 
The pope prudently abandoned the cause of the rebellious 
princes, pretending that he came only to reconcile the father with 
the sons. 

At a later period, to which our review of the course of events 
has now brought us, Lothaire king of Lorraine was excommuni- 
cated by Nicholas the First for repudiating* his wife Theutberga, 
in order to live with Waldrade, whose near relations the archbishop 
of Cologne and the bishop of Treves had induced the council of 
Metz to sanction the divorce. But Nicholas cancelled the decree 
of the council, and separated the bishops from the communion of 

(2) **Si excommunicans adveniret, excommunicatus abiret." Agobard arcbbishop of 
Lyons treats the subject of papal interference in firm and temperate language in bis letter 
to the emperor Lewis De comparatione utriusque reoiminis, ecclesiast. et roLiTic. 
Si Gregorius papa irrationabilitor et ad pugnandura venit, et pugnatiis et repulsus recedet: 
si pro quiete et pace populi, ct vestra, laborans nititur, bene etrationabiliter obtemperandum 
est illi, non repugnandum." Lcttera of Agobard in Bouquet. Vol. vi, p. 366. 


the church. Adrian his successor received at Monte Cassino the 
first of all the kings of Europe who crossed the Alps to implore 
pardon of the pope of Rome. Lothaire and Waldrade, throwing 
themselves at his feet, did penance for their crime, and were 
dismissed with threats of the vengeance of Heaven unless their 
repentance was sincere. The death of Lothaire within a week 
[869] was regarded as the just punishment of his insincerity. 

His death furnished occasion for another papal interposition 
which was not equally successful. Lewis the German and 
Charles the Bald, as we have already seen, divided his dominions ; 
Lewis usurped Transjuran Burgundy, while Charles was crowned 
king of Lorraine. Pope Adrian expoused the cause of the right 
heirs, and threatened to excommunicate Charles. It was upon this 
occasion that Hincmar addressed to the pope the two celebrated 
letters, in one of which he rebuked the pontiff for his interference 
in temporal affairs ; and in the other maintained the royal prero- 
gatives against the pretensions of the holy see in terms which 
singularly contrast with the submission which the bishops were 
exacting from their kings. He reconciles the seeming inconsis- 
tency by alleging that it is the kings, "who are constituted by 
God to command on earth, who have permitted the bishops to 
rule their affairs in accordance with their sovereign decrees." Ad- 
rian found it necessary to temporize, replying to the letters of 
Hincmar with fulsome compliments on Charles's justice and love 
of letters ; and offering him the succession to the empire which 
he had no more right to confer than he had to interfere in the 
affairs of Lorraine. 

While the Frank kings were intriguing to add new states to the 
dominions which they were imable to defend against foreign 
invaders, their nobles rebellious, and the people so harassed by 
the ravages of the Northmen, that they rose en masse, without 
leaders, to make an ineffectual effort for their expulsion from 
the banks of the Seine, — the Anglo-Saxon princes, acting in con- 
cert, and " rendering," as Simeon of Durham states, " brotherly 
help to each other," were making heroic efforts to drive the 
barbarians from their shores. The lion-hearted Alfred, with an 
unselfish devotion content to occupy a subordinate station, was 
ever in the foremost rank of his brother's armies, and a united 
people, confident in their chiefs, seconded all their efforts and 


were ever ready to renew the contest in defence of their coiintry 
and their religion. 

The Franks were at least equal to the Anglo-Saxon people in 
courage and the use of arms, and the population of Neustria and 
Aquitaine must have been as numerous as that of Wessex and 
the other Anglian kingdoms south of the Humber. How then 
do we account for the difference in the vigour with which the 
contest was maintained on the two sides of the channel, and in 
the ultimate issue of the long protracted struggle ? was it that 
the flower of the chivalry of the Franks perished in the fatal 
field of Fontenay, that fratricidal battle in which the slaughter 
on both sides was so great that, as the chroniclers lament, there 
were not warriors left to defend their common country ? We are 
inclined to think that the accounts of the slaughter are exag- 
gerated, and the lamentations for the result heightened by the 
terrors of the monkish annalists. Was it that the native popula- 
tions of Gaul were not yet fused with the conquering race, and 
that their dubious fidelity to Frankish counts and lords did not 
warrant their training them to the use of arms and arraying them 
thus against the enemy, as would appear from the tumultuary 
movement recently mentioned ? Was their zeal in the cause too 
weak to induce them to enter heartily into a combined struggle 
against the new race of invaders ; or, was it that the government 
of the Frank kingdoms being in the hands of churchmen, exhor- 
tations and homilies took the place of muster-rolls, — the relics of 
the saints were carried to the front of battle instead of the stan- 
dards of war, — and treasures of gold and silver were lavished in 
purchasing a disgraceful truce from barbarians who hardly 
respected treaties dictated at the point of the sword ? All these 
circumstances may have contributed in various degrees to the 
different results of the war with the Northmen on the opposite 
sides of the channel. But we are inclined to think that the 
proximate cause of the success of the Anglo-Saxon kings and 
people, is to be found in the union of the princes with each other 
and with their subjects, and their unreserved devotion to the 
single object of repelling or reducing the invaders. 

The return of Judith to her own country dissolved the only tie 
which connected the Anglo-Saxon with the Frank princes. The 
young widow of Ethelwiilf had formed a revolting alliance with 


his eldest son Ethelbald, between whom and Ethelbert their 
father's dominions were divided. On the death of Ethelbald, after 
a reign of only five years, she quitted for ever her adopted coun- 
try, and selling, we are told, all her property, repaired to the court 
of her father Charles the Bald. Some interest attaches to a woman 
who it is supposed had a considerable share in forming the charac- 
ter of the young Alfred ; and we find with regret that she speedily 
formed a shameful connection with Baldwin Bras-de-fer, a Flemish 
noble of distinguished ability, with whom by the help of her brother 
Lewis she eloped from the palace of Senlis where she was guarded 
and treated as a queen. In the first moments of his indignation at 
the dishonour done to his family, Charles the Bald invoked 
the censures of the Church on the guilty couple. They fled to 
Rome, expressed deep contrition for their fault, and by the medi- 
ation of the pope Nicholas I, Charles was induced to sanction their 
legitimate union. He gave to Baldwin all the country between 
the Scheld, the Sambre, and the sea, the antient territory of the 
Foresters, creating him count of Flanders, " that he might be the 
bulwark of the Frank kingdom against the Northmen." Baldwin 
built Bruges as a fortress to coerce their inroads. After a long 
and active life he left behind him the character that "Flan- 
ders never had a man his superior in talent and warlike ability," 
and we may hope that Judith wore the coronet of Flanders with 
more honour than her Anglo-Saxon crown. Her son Baldwin the 
second, — called, from his grandfather Charles Baldwin the Bald — 
succeeded as count of Flanders ; and it is pleasant to find that the 
relationship of Judith with Alfred was renewed by the marriage 
of her son to Elf rida, daughter of Alfred ; the germ perhaps, as 
we have already had occasion to remark, of the intimate and long 
continued connection between the Flemings and the English, the 
two nations which in the earliest times distinguished themselves 
by industrial and commercial progress. * 

The death of the emperor Lewis the second — who, with various 
fortune, had spent a long life in defending Italy against the Sara- 
cens, and his own authority against the Lombards of Beneventum 
— opened to Charles the Bald the long wished for opportunity of 

(3) From Arnulph, song of Baldwin II and Elfrida, was descended Matilda wife of William 
the Conqueror. In a generation later than Elfrida, no less than five grand-children of 
Alfred, daughters of his son Edward the elder, intermarried with continental princes, — two 



arriving at the summit of his ambition. The pope John VIII, 
faithful to the promise of his predecessor Adrian, and disregarding 
the rights of the German princes, as the elder branch of the Carlo- 
vingian family, offered the title of emperor, with the crown of Italy, 
to the French king, which Charles, with equal disregard to the 
rights of his brother Lewis, did not hesitate to accept 

The year 875 — ^four years after Alfred the Great was raised to the 
throne of the imited Anglo-Saxon kingdoms on the death of his 
brother Ethelred, — witnessed the coronation of Charles the Bald 
as emperor and king of Italy. But so insecure was his tenure of 
his hereditary dominions, that the Christmas in which he was 
crowned at Rome was spent by Lewis, in the middle of France, 
in Charles's own palace of Attigny. As the new emperor returned, 
he received the iron crown of Lombardy at Milan, leaving his 

of whom were of the highest rank, — Charles the Simple, and the emperor Otho the Great 
Tlie following pedigree shews all the marriages referred to in the text and in this note : 

(Ist wife)=Ethelwulph=(2d wife) Judith, d. of Charles the Bald, k. of 
I France, 856. 




= Judith 


Baldwin = Judith 

2nd mar. 

THE Great. 


3rd mar. 


CO. Flanders 


d. 880 



(2)EdgivB = 

= Edward = 


£lfnda= Baldwin II (the 

the El- 1 

929. Bald) c. of Flan- 


ders, 918. 


























CO. Flanders 
Matilda wif 


P 5- 


O »4» 






m% g* 








5 S* 









brother in law Boson regent, with the title of duke of Pavia. 
Invested with these shadowy crowns, disdaining the customs of 
the Franks, and affecting the pomp, the language, and the habits of 
the antient emperors, Charles yet appealed to the bishops and 
received their sanction of his new honours and of all that he had 
done beyond the Alps. 

876. He was preparing to march against his brother Lewis the 
German, when the death of that king, while it arrested his imme- 
diate design of retaliation for the recent irruption into the heart of 
France, opened to him new projects of aggrandizement. The 
memory of Lewis was dear to the German peoples whom he had 
protected by his victories against the Sclaves and the northern 
invaders. His subjects praised his piety, his justice, and disinterest^ 
edness ; but the French could not acknowledge these virtues in a 
prince who had twice overrun their corntry, and whose long life 
had been spent in war against his father, his brothers, his nephews 
and his own son. ^ According to custom he subdivided his 
dominions among his three sons, leaving to Carloman, the eldest^ 
Bavaria with the east marches, as Austria was then called, and 
his claims to the kingdom of Italy ; to Charles le Gros, his second 
son, he bequeathed his German territories, with Helvetia and 
Alsace, including his pretensions on Burgundy and Upper 
Lorraine ; to Lewis his third son — Saxony, Franconia, and Basse 

The suzerainty of the Frank kingdoms had been transferred 
from Germany to France by the investiture of Charles the Bald 
with the imperial crown ; and by successive steps, the youngest — 
and originaUy the least endowed, of the sons of Lewis le Debon- 
naire — ^had obtained possession of two thirds of the empire ; and 
now, supporting his pretensions by a clause in the treaty of 
Mersen, he would have reduced his nephews Lewis and Charles 
under his tutelage, and sought to push the frontier of the French 

(4) The Annals of Fulda compiled by a German monk, favor Lewis and betray a 
violent hatred of Charles the Bald. They call him ** the tyrBut of Gaul and a new Sennach- 
erib." It is worthy of notice that in these Annals, the kingdom of Charles is always called 
Gaul, and his subjects Gauls ; while the kingdom of Lewis, in the heart of Germany, is 
called Fbance, and his subjects Franks. Bouquet ; " Recueil des historiens de France." 

The distinction between the antient France, the intermediate or Austrasian France, and 
the new or Neustrian 'France, with the antipadiies thence arising, have been already 
pointed out 

£way« 3y 


dominions to the Rhine. But the enterprise was postponed for 
one which was more tempting to the vanity inspired by his new 
dignity. Pope John VIII, reminding him that it had its duties as 
well as its rights and honours, implored him to cross the Alps in 
defence of the territory of St Peter against the Saracens, who 
since the death of the emperor Lewis II were overrunning Italy. 
The envoys of the pontiff repaired to him at Compiegne, re- 
presenting in glowing colours the glory and the merit of a crusade 
against the infidels ; and his own bishops could not refuse their 
sanction to so pious an enterprise. But the best interests of France 
were sacrificed to a chimerical project which paved the way for 
the loss of the province which had been the cradle of the Frank 
dominion in Gaul, and for the utter prostration of the royal 
authority in the other provinces of the empire. In both these 
aspects, therefore, the enterprise demands a particular notice. 

The policy of Alfred in his dealings with the Danes is as much 
to be admired as the valour and skill with which he met them in 
the field. His victories had caused them to throw themselves in 
increased numbers on the coasts of France, and he had succeeded 
in detaching Rollo — who then held a subordinate command — 
from the other chiefs, and happily ridding his country of the 
most formidable, as it soon appeared, of all the daring pirates 
who in the course of the century launched their barks from the 
shores of Scandinavia. Rollo found in Alfred a genius greater 
than his own ; — abandoning the invasion of Britain, he sailed for 
the Scheld and, having subjected the country to pillage and 
ransom, again embarked and entered the Seine. During the 
latter years of the reign of Charles the Bald almost every part of 
France had been successively exposed to the ravages of the 
Northmen. But when towns had been burnt, and monasteries 
sacked, and multitudes of every age and sex massacred, till the 
country was a desert and the footsteps of the invaders might be 
traced in fire and blood, they generally retired with their booty 
or the ransom with which their retreat had been purchased. 
But Rollo was now establishing himself at Rouen in the heart of 
a province which the feebleness of the Frank government was 
hastening to sacrifice. The enormous sum of five thousand louts 
(Tor levied by Charles from his impoverished subjects, on the eve 
of his expedition into Italy, for the purpose of purchasing a pre- 


carious truce during his absence, served only to expose the 
weakness of the Franks, and to inflame the avarice of the Norman 

The insubordination of the nobles and their repugnance to have 
the strength of the realm exhausted in a foreign enterprise of 
very doubtful promise were assuaged by sacrifices which gave a 
legitimate form to the independence they were struggling to 
assume. The capitulary enacted by Charles the Bald in a national 
assembly held at Kiersy-sur-Oise, on the eve of his Italian ex- 
pedition, was quoted in after times by the barons as the charter 
of their liberties. Confirming and extending the concessions of the 
treaty of Mersen already noticed, it removed every legal obstacle 
to the assertion of those independent rights which ended in 
the hierarchical organisation of the feudal system. The counts 
and other officers were guaranteed in the absolute possession 
of their rank, and of the offices hitherto intrusted to them as the 
delegates of the sovereign ; as well as in the transmission to their 
heirs of the dignities they held. Office as well as rank henceforth 
became hereditary, the crown renouncing the right to name the 
ministers of its jurisdiction. 

The constitutions of Kiersy* deserve more attention than, 
independently of these provisions, they have hitherto received. 
They are a curious specimen of the legislation of the age, and 
throw considerable light on the state of society and of manners ; 
combining the most important provisions with regulations of the 
most trivial details in the domestic affairs of the king. There 
are sections, as we have seen, which give the solution of the 
great constitutional question of the times ; other capitularies 
betray great anxiety for the preservation of the game in the 
royal forests during the king's absence from the realm, pointing out 
in detail those which were to be strictly preserved, and excepting a 
small number for the amusement of the prince. In some of these 
he is prohibited from hunting the wild boar ; and the keepers are 
enjoined to keep an exact accoimt of the game killed. There is 
an ominous decree for the exaction of the tribute to be paid to 
the Northmen settled on the Seine. It was to be levied by the 
bishops, abbots, and counts, on their own and the royal vassals, 

(5) Bouquet, Recucil, VII, 698. 


divided into the three classes of lords, coloni, and seniles, 
in proportions ranging from twelve pence to four, three, or one, 
according to their rank or the value of the mansus, the farm or 
domain, they severally held. It gives us a glimpse of the state 
of the cities and towns, in the enactment that the traders who 
dwelt in them should be taxed, as far as it could be done, Quxta 
possibilitatemj according to what they owned in goods and 
chattels; thus drawing the distinction in the mode of taxation 
between real and personal property, and admitting a difficulty 
which perplexes modem legislators. 

By one of these capitularies the emperor provides in which of 
his palaces his daughters shall reside, and which of his domains 
they are forbidden to occupy, during his absence. About to 
embark on a long and perilous journey, he directs that news of all 
kinds, whether good or bad, should be forwarded to him by 
couriers on horseback or messengers on foot, to relieve his anxiety 
as soon as possible : and he warns his faithful people, with great 
simplicity, not easily to believe reports of his death, which may 
be current on any occasion. He appoints his son Lewis le Begue 
regent during his absence, with a council of bishops and counts 
of which Hincmar was the head. 

Such were the last legislative acts of Charles the Bald. He 
had plucked the brightest jewel from his crown to propitiate his 
nobles, he had imposed a grievous burthen on his subjects to 
buy off the hostility of RoUo; but all these sacrifices were in 
vain. The king and the pirate departed from France at the 
same time ; the king never to return, — his visionary dreams of 
glory ending in the disgraceful abandonment of his enterprise at 
the approach of his nephew Carloman, and his sudden death, in 
877, at an obscure village at the foot of Mont-Cenis, on his 
hasty retreat across the Alps. The pirate, vi-king reappeared on 
the soil he had marked for his own, and lived to consummate the 
conquest of the most antient kingdom of the Neustrian Franks. 

With Charles the Bald ended the nominal superiority which 
his restless and scheming ambition had restored to France. All 
his foreign acquisitions were lost, and he left to his feeble descen- 
dants, but the shadow of power in his proper dominions. The 
victories of Fontevraut and Saucourt, in which 90,000 Northmen 


were said to have been slain, shed a momentary lustre on the 
short reign of Lewis le Begue ; but Italy, Lorraine and Burgundy 
were severed from the crown of France, Brittany and Gascony 
withdrew their allegiance, and the original kingdoms of Neustria 
and Aquitain alone remained to be divided between his yovmg 
sons. Their early deaths opened the way for the accession of 
Charles le Gros, the representative of the German line, to the 
French kingdoms, to the exclusion, for the present, of Charles 
the Simple, the youngest and pothumous son of Lewis le Begue. 

In this part of our review, more especially, we feel the difficulty, 
with which we have had to contend throughout, of the attempt 
to trace in a rapid sketch the numberless changes, both dynastic 
and territorial, which the states of Europe underwent in the latter 
part of the ninth century. But some such thread of narrative 
is necessary to give significance to a survey of its political 
revolutions. In Charles le Gros the semblance of unity was 
again restored. Inheriting Bavaria and Italy from his elder 
brother Carloman, Saxony and Lorraine from his brother Lewis, — 
and now succeeding to the French kingdoms and invested with 
the title of emperor, — almost the whole of the empire of 
Charlemagne was again reunited. But the sceptre had fallen to 
feeble hands, and neither statesmen nor warriors were found 
to rally round the mockery of a royalty dignified with so many 
pompous titles, and guide the affairs, or arm in the defence, 
of the distracted empire. 

The aged Hincmar, whose influence had supported and whose 
counsels had guided the son and grandsons of Charles the Bald, 
had no friendly feeling for the German emperor, and was about 
to quit the stage on which he had acted so distinguished a part. 
Two years after the accession of Charles le Gros, his city of 
Rheims was sacked by the Normans; the archbishop escaped 
across the Mame and died at Epemay, leaving a reputation for 
talent in the conduct of pubhc affairs both in church and state, 
which no man of his times could equal. Generous and kind to 
those he loved, he set no bounds to his indignation against those 
who gave him cause of offence. His political administration, for 
the most part, had in view the real interest of his country ; and, 
if he exalted the church of which he was the spiritual head, he 
rigorously maintained her discipline and courageously defended 


her liberties. The ascendancy of the bishops in political affairs 
did not long survive his administration. Perhaps the brightest 
trait in the character — as it was the redeeming feature in that 
of his master Charles the Bald — was the continued patronage, 
amidst all the troubles of the times and perplexities of affairs^ 
of literature, of schools and of learned men. 

Soon after the death of Hincmar, king Alfred, who after the 
defeat and settlement of the Danes under Guthrum, was employ- 
ing the longest interval of peace his inveterate enemies permitted 
him to enjoy, in establishing order and encouraging learning and 
the arts of industry, dispatched messengers to France to invite 
skilful and learned men to assist him in carrying into effect his 
wise and benevolent designs. We find that his former friend 
Grimbald, and John * — described by Asser as a priest and a monk 
of the celebrated abbey of Corbie — a man of great attainments in 
hteratiu'e and the liberal arts, accepted the invitation. We may 
conceive the report made by the intelligent foreigners to their 
illustrious patron of the state of affairs at that time in the conti- 
nental kingdoms, and we may understand with what thankfulness, 
among all his discouragements, Alfred turned from the contem- 
plation of falling kings and dismembered states, insubordinate 
nobles, and heathenism rampant, to his own happier prospects. 
While he was occupied in erecting castles, fortifying towns, and 
rebuilding London, Paris the antient Lutetia, — " that noble capital," 
as an old writer describes it, ''resplendent with glory, the treasury 
of kings, the gate of nations" — the fauxbourgs of which had been 
so often reduced to ashes, was menaced with utter destruction. 
Deserted by the pusillanimity of Charles le Gros, it was saved 
with difficulty, after a long siege, by the valour of Eudes, its 
count and duke of France, whose star was now rising to the 

Alfred was at this time also laying the foundation of that naval 
power, in which his countrymen have since been so preeminent 

(5) Some writers consider that this John was Erigena the Irishman already mentioiied, 
who after the death of Charles the Bald attached himself to Alfred. Tubnee, Amolo-Saxoii 
Hist. v. 1, p. 291. II, 380. Linoard however thinks otherwise. If Asser is correct in hii 
description of John as " of the race of the Eald (or old) Saxons," he must have been anothtf 
person ; but the probabilities of the case, and some circumstances connected with the tragic 
ilory of his death favour the idea that this John and John Erigena were the tame. 


Master of the narrow seas he could at least close his ports against 
the descent of fresh hordes of pirates ; while the mouths of the 
Scheld, the Seine and the Loire were open to their irruptions, and 
no exertions were made by the distracted princes of the continent 
to meet the enemies on their proper element The coasts of the 
Mediterranean were equally unprotected ; the fleets of the Greek 
emperor being the only force which could cope with the gallies 
of African and Andalusian corsairs, while they were employed main- 
taining the distant connection with the cities and provinces in the 
south of Italy which still continued their allegiance to the emperor 
of the east. Under the Arabian caUphs in Spain great attention was 
paid to naval affairs. Their invasions of Sicily and the other islands, 
with the conquest of Crete, which they long retained against all 
attacks of the Greek emperor — challenge for them the claims of 
superiority to every other naval power in the waters of the Mediter- 
ranean. ' 

Little need be added in continuation of the review we have 
already taken of the affairs of Spain under the caliphs of Cordova, 
to bring them down to the close of the century. Under the govern- 
ment of a line of able and enlightened princes, the successors of 
Abdalrahman II, Spain made made continual progress in literature, 
science and art — and in general prosperity. Their friendly rela- 
tions with the Frank princes were not seriously interrupted by the 
imsettled state of the times in which rebel emirs were often found 
fighting under the banners of insubordinate counts ; and 
successive ambassadors from the caliph Mohammed to the court of 
Charles the Bald were received with honour at Senlis and 

In the reign of Almandher, who was cotemporary with Charles 

(6) We have no means of ascertaining whether Alfred's famous mission to the shrine of 
St Thomas in India yr%s a naval expedition through the Mediterranean ; but that route 
was probably preferred to the long and more perilous journey through the deserts of central 
Europe and Asia. Whether his envoys reached the coast of Malabar by what is now called 
the '* Overland route," that is, by way of £g3rpt, embarking again at Suez on the Red Sea, or 
by the Euphrates and the Persian gulf, is also matter for speculation. That in the tenth cen- 
tury there were trading voyages from Egypt to India we learn from a geographical treatise 
written by Cosmas, a merchant of Alexandria sumamed Imdico-pleustes, or the Indian 
navigator. It is probable that the fame of the precious gems and aromatic confections 
which Alfred's messengers imported from India may have assisted in turning the attention 
of the free cities of Italy, now rising to importance, to the trade of the East 

(1) A good history of the Arabs in Spain is still wanting in English Literature. 


le Gros, the rising power of the Christian princes, Alphonso in the 
Asturias and Sancho in Navarre, who had threatened the Spanish 
frontier, was signally checked by a great victory on the Douro, and 
the siege of Zamora. Under his successor Abdallah, Provence was 
colonized by Andalusian invaders who, making Fraxinet their prin- 
cipal post, held it for a long course of years extending into the 
next century. From thence estabUshing themselves at St Maurice 
in the Valais, they held the passes of the Alps, and the Christian 
pilgrims to the shrine of St Peter, at the close of the ninth century, 
were exposed to the same perils and exactions at the hands of the 
infidels which, two centuries later, roused the population and the 
chivalry of Eiu-ope to crusades for clearing the way to the tomb 
of our Saviour, 

The deposition of Carles le Gros by the Frank nobles and bishops, 
assembled at Trewer near Mayence on the Rhine, sealed the 
humiliation of the Carlovingian dynasties. The dismemberment 
of the empire was rendered more striking by its shortly succeed- 
ing the reunion under the same sceptre of all the populations 
emancipated by the peace of Verdun. After a struggle of forty 
years between the Franks of Germany, and the Franks of Gaul, 
that treaty was consummated by the revolution of 888, which 
completed the political separation of the three greater states, ad- 
mitted several lesser kingdoms into the European system, and 
prepared the way for further, and still more minute, divisions of 
territory and sovereignty. 

The times were such that personal merit was more regarded in 
the choice of rulers than legitimacy of birth ; but the brilliant 
qualities of Amulph of Carinthia were doubtless enhanced by 
his descent, as the natural son of Carloman, from the blood of 
Charlemagne regarded with respect by the counts and nobles by 
whom he was raised to the throne of Germany. He not only 
consolidated the peace of his own kingdom by imposing respect 
on the great vassals and securing its safety by victories over the 
Northmen of the Scheld and the Sclaves of Moravia, but, whether 
it was owing to his power, or to his pretensions, though by an 
impure source, to be the representative of Charlemagne, the 
German king exercised a certain preeminence in the new political ^ 


system of Europe. The kings of France, Italy and Burgundy 
paid him homage, and he disposed of the kingdom of Lorraine in 
favour of his natural son Zwentibald. 

Italy, always the theatre of German ambition, was distracted by 
the rival pretensions of Guy and Berenger, the powerful dukes 
of Spoleto and Friuli, both of whom were crowned kings of Italy, 
as well as emperors. Aniulph interfered in the contest on the 
part of Berenger, eventually assuming himself the titles of emperor 
and king. The Italians, impatient of foreign domination, 
regarded Guy, and Lambert his son and successor, as national 
kings under whom alone their independence was secure. Lambert 
had not been able to prevent the coronation of Amulph as emperor 
and king of Italy, but his recall by an incursion of the Moravians 
was followed by the re-accession of Guy, who made peace with 
Berenger, the Adda being fixed for the boundary of their territo- 
ries, and reigned as emperor till the last years of the century. 

899. Amulph after his retreat from Italy languished and died 
at Ratisbon. He was succeeded in the kingdom of Germany by 
his son Lewis the infant, with whose short and feeble reign was 
extinguished the German branch of the house of Charlemagne. 
It seems probable that the German monarchy would have fallen 
into a state of dissolution from internal anarchy and the barbarian 
invasions on its eastern frontier, but for the fidelity of Otho, the 
great duke of Saxony, who as governor of his young brother-in- 
law defended with disinterested loyalty the rights of a crown 
which his posterity wore. 

France, overrun by the Northmen, could find no safety but in 
setting aside the pretensions of Charles the Simple, the legitimate 
heir, and creating a national sovereignty in the person of Eudes — 
son of Robert the Strong, count of Paris — a brave soldier who 
had already distinguished himself in the defence of his country. 
Some years after the election of Eudes, a German faction called 
Charles the Simple to the throne of France, and supported by 
Amulph, to whom he was a suppliant and gave his homage, 
Charles also was crowned king of France and obtained possession 
of some territory on the German frontier. On the death of 
Eudes he succeeded to the whole of the dominions of which he 
was lawful heir. His feeble reign of 27 years, prolonged far into 


the tenth century, has few claims on our notice. It was embit* 
tered by the insubordination of the great nobles who for a time 
held him in captivity, and elected Robert, brother of Eudes, king, 
Charles the Simple married Egina the eldest of the grand-daughters 
of Alfred the Great. The most remarkable, and perhaps the 
most politic act of his administration, — which however belongs 
to a somewhat later period, having taken place in 911 — was the 
investiture of RoUo the Norman chief in the duchy of Normandy, 
with the hand of his daughter in marriage. A brave and high- 
minded prince would never have torn so bright a jewel from his 
crown ; but Charles the Simple found in the duchy of Normandy, 
not only a barrier against fresh invasions of the Northern pirates, 
but his best defence against the aggressions of his own insubor- 
dinate nobles. 

In the dismemberment of the empire, to the three great divi- 
sions of the European states — Germany, Italy and France, were 
added two kingdoms of the lesser order. Boson, brother-in-law 
of Charles the Bald, after losing his duchy of Pavia, had esta- 
blished himself in Cis-juran Burgundy on the death of Lewis le 
Begue, assuming the title of king of Provence. His son Lewis 
succeeded him at the time of the general disruption, and in the 
last year of the centiu-y was crowned also emperor and king of 
Italy, the third of that name. 

Transjuran Burgundy, including the territories between the 
Jura, the Rhone and the Reuss, — that is, Switzerland, the Valais, 
Chablais and the Genevese— was appropriated in the general 
dislocation of states by Rodolph Welf, with the style of king of 
Burgundy. He too in the ensuing century was crowned king of 
Italy, the battle ground of all pretenders. The two Burgundies 
were afterwards reunited, and continued in the posterity of 
Rodolph as the kingdom of Aries. 

The spectacle which has now been presented to our view — ^rival 
kings of Italy and of France, emperors without an empire, and 
kings possessing but fragments of the kingdoms of which each 
had received the forms of investiture — discloses a state of affairs 
from which it may be perceived that the settlement of Europe after 
the death of Charles the Bald was no more stable than that which 
had been attempted by the treaty of Verdun, nearly half a century 


before. The empire is dismembered, we find five* kingdoms 
instead of three, and the political dissolution is still in progress. 

It has been well observed • that the counts and barons were 
the real heirs of Charles the Bald. What were Boson and Eudes, 
Amulph and Rodolph, Berenger and Guy, but powerful vassals 
who, in the anarchy of the times, rose to the rank of kings ? In 
every quarter the great feudatories were establishing independent 
sovereignties differing little but in name from those of the kings. 
In France alone, before the end of the ninth century, twenty 
nine provinces or fragments of provinces were already erected 
into small states, the antient governers of which, under the names 
of dukes, counts, viscounts, had become their true sovereigns. 
The importance of these states was not equal, nor their indepen- 
dence absolutely alike ; some still kept up frequent relations with 
the king of France; others were under the protection of a 
powerful neighbour ; certainties united them, and hence certain 
reciprocal obligations resulted which became the constitution of 
the feudal society. But the dominant feature was, not the less, 
isolation — independence ; they were evidently so many small states 
born of the dismemberment of a great territory — ^local govern- 
ment, formed at the expence of the central power. These power- 
ful fiefs had a long political existence; sovereigns hereditarily 
succeeded sovereigns ; they had their distinct laws and customs, 
their wars, and their separate histories. 

Some of the founders of these fiefs belonged to families which 
already possessed historic names ; such as Gerard of Roussillon 
and Guiafer of Gascony, the celebrated heroes of romance ; and 
the antient dukes of Brittany who withstood the arms of Charle- 
magne liimself. Others of the great feudatories rose to eminence 

(8) Some modern writers reckon six, counting the kingdom of Navarre, which can 
hardly he considered part of the Carlovingian empire ; others seven, including Lorraine, 
which was only an investiture hy Amulph of part of his own dominions in favour of his son 
Zwentihold, terminating with him. It has been already remarked that the Anglo-Saxon 
politicians had very accurate information of continental' affairs, and that Alfred's sister 
Queen Ethelswith was on her way to Rome in the very year when the final dismember- 
ment of the empire had been just accomplished. A most exact account of the di\ ision into 
five kiugdoms, with a reference to the superior claims of Amulph, is inserted in the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle. 

See th« Harmony p. 98 of this volume under the years 887-888. Oda or Odo is the 
German form of the Latinized Evdes, and Witha, or Gwitha, of Guy- 



— some to royalty — ^in after times. There were the Gastons and 
Taillefers of Beam and Thoulouse, and the comits of Anjou 
from whom spnmg the royal houses of the Capets and Plantage- 
nets ; not to mention the Baldwins of Flanders ; and the great 
Norman chiefs, Rollo in Normandy, and Thibaut count of Tours 
and lord of Chartres, progenitor of the houses of Blois and Cham- 
pagne, who having changed their names in baptism became natu- 
ralized, and shut the Seine and the Loire for ever against the 
pirates of the north. 

The Anglo-Saxon monarchy during the time of Alfred and for 
a long period afterwards seems to have suffered but little from 
that insubordination among the superior nobility which ended in 
dismembering the empire of Charlemagne. The individual charac- 
ter of such princes as Alfred and Athelstan and Edgar was a 
guarantee such as that of none of the Carlovingian kings afforded 
against any encroachment on their rights of sovereignty. Besides, 
in England the German institutions, which the Anglo-Saxons 
inherited as well as the Franks, still subsisted almost entire. 
Royalty in its simpler form borrowed little or nothing from Ro- 
man imperial traditions which swelled the pretensions of the 
Frankish sovereigns. The right of election did not become, as on 
the continent, a mere form, but the most qualified of the royal 
race was generally chosen, to the exclusion often of the heir by 
regular descent, and this was a bond of union between the king 
and the nobles. They had also a continual voice in the Witena- 
gemot, the national assemblies without whose consent no public 
measures were decided, which left them without pretence for 
usurping an undue share of political power ; while that of the 
kings was moderated by the continuance of these assemblies and 
the free spirit of the people. 

The Ealderman, the highest dignity in the state, was simply a 
magistrate appointed by the sovereign to administer justice and 
array the people for war or defence — in that particular the type 
of our present Lieutenants of counties. The dignity was neither 
territorial nor hereditary. After the accession of Canute the Eal- 
derman became an Earl — the Norwegian Jarl — and when the 
whole island was subdued and. united under one sovereign the 
fashion was introduced of intrusting great provinces to a single 


Earl, whOe originally the English counties, each under its own 
Alderman, were not of a size to encourage the usurpation of their 
governors. From that era the provincial governors began to 
overpower the royal authority as they had done on the continent, 
and England under Edward the Confessor was not far removed 
from the condition of France under Charles the Bald. 

The feeble reigns of Charles the Simple in France, and Lewis 
the Infant in Germany, were commencing, and Italy was divided 
between Guy and Berenger, at the time that Alfred — unaffected 
by foreign revolutions and unembarrassed by the insubordination of 
the great nobles, which palsied the strength of the continental 
kings — ^was called upon to oppose with the whole force of his 
realm a combination of the Northmen more formidable than any 
which it had yet been his fortune to resist. 

The veteran Hastings, driven from the Scheld by a victory 
which shed lustre on the close of the reign of Amulph, concentrat- 
ed his forces at Boulogne and determined on a fresh invasion of 
England. From the magnitude of his armament, and the combi- 
nations which the hoary and experienced pirate effected with the 
Danes already settled in East Anglia and Northumbria, it appears 
that he meditated no less than the conquest of the whole island. 
We are led to think of other conquests, and other menaces of 
invasion issuing from that coast of the channel, when we are told 
that having assembled a fleet of 250 ships, he " transported" his 
whole force " at one time, with their horses withal," and landed 
them safely on the coast of Sussex. In the fastnesses of the great 
wood which even now overspreads the Wealden or central districts 
of Sussex and Kent — the Sylva Anderida, or Coed Andred of the 
Britons — 120 miles in length and 30 in breadth, they were able 
to maintain themselves building a fort of timber, while their alhes 
in the north were exhausting the strength of Alfred's forces. 
The war raged for three years from the Humber to the south 
coast, and from the mouth of the Thames to Exeter and to Chester 
on the borders of north Wales ; and a fortified camp on the river 
Lea within reach of London, already a place of importance, but not 
as yet the capital, was held by the main body of the army of 
Hastings till it was broken up in consequence of a skilful man- 
oeuvre of Alfred. 


Meanwhile a murrain of cattle, and a pestilential disorder^ 
lessened his resources, and carried off a vast number of his noblest 
generals and bravest soldiers. But the genius of Alfred prevailed 
against all difficulties. The war had been waged by sea as well 
as by land ; but a number of ships built on his own skilful models, 
of a size and proportion differing from that both of the Danish 
and Frisian vessels, gave him the superiority. All the efforts of 
the bold and experienced pirate were foiled, and, his dreams of 
conquest abandoned, he fled for ever from the shores of England. 
This crowning success of Alfred's career freed his kingdom from 
apprehension of foreign invasion, and reduced to submission the 
Northmen already settled in the country. Living three years 
afterwards glorious and beloved, he left his kingdom miited and 
well regulated, unshaken in its political organization, unimpaired 
in its material prosperity, notwithstanding the ravages to which it 
had been exposed, and making advances in civilization and know- 
ledge, in trade and in naval power, — a state of affairs in strong 
contrast with that of the other European kingdoms. 

Our third and last point of view of the political state of Europe 
in the ninth century was to be taken from this era. It has been 
gradually opening to us from just before the middle of the century, 
when we saw the empire of Charlemagne divided into three great 
kingdoms. We have followed the progress of its dismemberment 
until, at the close of the century, we see it split into several 
small kingdoms and a number of other almost independent states, 
connected by slender ties with the sovereignties of which they 
were nominally members. But the tendency to dissolution was 
not stayed at this point ; the relaxation of the bonds of central 
authority still increased, and if we extend our view into the tenth 
century we shall find that before its close every lord of a domain 
asserted within his own seignory independent sovereign rights, 
with the reservation only of a suzerainty to the national king or 
to some one of the great feudatories similar to that which was the 
only badge of their own subjection to the chief of the state. 

Empires of unwieldy bulk, like that of Charlemagne, have 
several times been dissolved by the usurpation of provincial 


governors, as is recorded both in antient history and in that of 
the Mahomedan dynasties of the east ; and some persons have 
been satisfied with supposing that they discover in that analogy a 
sufficient cause of the phenomenon the principal crises of which 
we have now followed. Others have assigned the decay of the 
empire to the incapacity of Charlemagne's successoris ; — ^if they 
had possessed the genius and character of its founder it would 
have still subsisted. According to others, the Normans have to 
answer for its ruin; their constant invasions, the misery and 
despair of the people shattered the powers of government and 
brought about all the evil. 

Another solution of the problem has been given by several 
writers, but M. Thierry has developed its principles with the 
greatest ingenuity.*' According to him, the dismemberment of 
the empire of Charlemagne was brought about by the antagonism 
of races. On the death of Charles, when the powerful hand 
which held together so many different nations was withdrawn, they 
first separated, and then grouped themselves according to their 
several varieties of origin, language and manners ; and under 
this influence was accomplished the formation of new states. 
No doubt there was a strong antagonism between the different 
populations ; and the division of the empire after the civil wars 
among the sons of Lewis le Debonnair originated in a feeling of 
nationality as well as in the ambition of the princes. It appeared 
more distinctly in the struggle for Eudes the elective king of 
France against the legitimate king Charles the Simple — a struggle 
which was only terminated by the exclusion of the Carlovingian 
dynasty and the accession of Hugh Capet in the following 

But the dismemberment of the empire did not merely arise 
from the struggle of origin or nationality ; for the races were 
divided in the interior of almost all the kingdoms into which it 
was divided. We have already remarked the divergency of poli- 
tical opinion between the Franks of Germany and the Franks of 
Gaul. We saw them ranged under opposite banners at the great 
battle of Fontenai, uniting themselves, though of the same race, 
with the mixed societies in which they lived. Geographical posi- 

(10) Lettres sur I'histoire de France. XI and XII. 


tion, personal interests and other special causes evidently had 
their share in bringing about the greater divisions, and the con- 
sideration of race is still more foreign to the question of the causes 
of the dismemberment of the duchies and counties and lordships 
into which each kingdom was subdivided. There was in them 
no such struggle of origin or nationality, and yet there was separa- 
tion, dismemberment, the same as among the great masses of 
population of which the kingdoms were formed. 

It is therefore necessary that we should penetrate below the 
surface of events to ascertain the principle which was most influ- 
ential in the dissolution of the empire of Charlemagne and the 
formation of the new states. It appears to have had its origin in 
the instincts and the habits of the conquering race. These were 
opposed to centralization and tended to separation and indepen- 
dence. A great consolidated empire was incompatible with the 
genius and habits of the Franks. 

If we know anything of the character of the antient Germans, 
independence — individuality, was its predominant feature. Every 
member of the tribe had a hand in raising the chief of their elec- 
tion on the buckler, a voice in the free deliberations of its assem- 
blies. He was attached to his chief, but his service was in great 
measure voluntary. In foreign inroads he followed the bravest 
and the best. — In that simple state of society, there is little inequa- 
lity of rank. The warriors were the associates of their chief, they 
shared his dangers, his pleasures, and the spoils of his enterprises. 
It has been justly and beautifully said that " personal indepen- 
dence, the pleasure of enjoying existence vigorously and unre- 
strained, amidst the uncertainties of the world and of life, the 
luxury of action without labour, the love of a destiny full of ad- 
venture, of unforseen events, of inequality and of danger, are the 
ruling principle of the barbarian state." It is the same in the 
original races of the St Lawrence and Keiskamma as it was among 
the long-haired tribes who roamed through the forests from the 
Rhine to the Danube. May not vestiges of the same idiosyncrasy 
be traced now in individual characters of our own race which the 
transmuting and civilizing processes of a thousand years have not 
sufficed to eradicate ? 

Conquest made some difference in the relative positions of the 


members of the invading tribes. It raised the chief to a barbarian 
royalty which affected the exclusive privileges of their new rank. 
But large portions of the conquered territories were parcelled out 
among his followers. The leading men were still his compa- 
nions and formed his court, his leudes, his peers. The brotherhood 
of arms has always involved a certain sense of equality. In later 
ages, when the distinctions of rank had become still greater, 
knighthood conferred the privilege of companionship with princes. 
Even at this day kings address their nobles as cousins. Charle- 
magne had his peers. The tenure on which the Franks held their 
lands is not very well defined. Service in war was its principal ele- 
ment. The ties which united them to their chief admitted of a large 
share of independence. Isolated on their domains, that element in 
the German character had full scope for its developement. They 
too had their followers of lesser rank, their companions and sub- 
portionists of their lands, who held of them, as they did of the 
king. The conquered race, freeholders or serfs, gradually attached 
themselves to their new lords. The bond that existed between 
the conquerors, the individual attachment of man to man, the 
principle of fidelity, was carried into the new society. In it we 
discover the germs of that organization which a century later 
became feudality, — and in the communities thus formed, we find 
the origin of the states which, each under its own lord, rose to 
independence in the dismemberment of the empire. 

The system of Charlemagne may be viewed under a twofold 
aspect, one pointing to the Roman, the other to the German in- 
stitutions. In his imperial capacity his leading idea was centrali- 
zation. All power emanated from the sovereign ; in the provinces 
it was delegated to officers nominated by him, who represented 
the proconsuls and prefects of the old imperial system. In his 
name they raised forces, administered justice, maintained order and 
received tribute. Imperial commissioners, missi dominici, specially 
dispatched from the seat of government, sustained the unity of its 
administration, enforced its decrees, reported misrule and rectified 
abuses. But Charlemagne was king of the Franks, as well as 
emperor. The German element of his government is discovered 
in the national assemblies, belonging to the free institutions of the 
Franks, in the relations subsisting between the sovereign and his 
great officers — the military patronage ; — in their judicial forms. 
It entered therefore largely into the provincial government. 

Efuyt 4 1 


It was from the ranks of the privileged class, the Prankish 
nobiUty, that the governors of duchies and counties and the minor 
divisions of the Carlovingian empire were selected — ^very different 
persons from the proconsuls and prefects of the Roman Caesars. 
Those magistrates were strangers, with no territorial rights, in the 
provinces they administered. Rome — Italy was their home. They 
had no more hold of the soil, no closer bond of union with the 
provincial populations, than the governors of colonies in our own 
times. Members of the great mimicipality under the forms of 
which the world was governed, patricians, senators, consuls, — and 
trained in a system of regular hierarchical subordination, they 
might amass wealth, but territorial aggrandizement, as a means of 
power, was foreign to their ideas. 

The case of the great officers of the Carlovingian empire was 
different. At first, indeed, they were merely delegates of the 
sovereign, removable at his pleasure. But, even then, there were 
vassals who held, sometimes hereditarily, more frequently for life, 
domains through the extent of which they exercised, mostly in 
their own names, partly in that of the emperor, a certain jurisdic- 
tion and most of the rights of sovereignty. Some of the provin- 
cial governors combined both these characters — ^perhaps in the 
same province — delegates of the imperial authority, and indepen- 
dent on their own lands. Under such circumstances the tendency 
to identify the personal with the territorial dignity must have been 
very great. In the course of a few generations, as we have seen 
in the time of Charles the Bald, honours and jurisdictions became 
hereditary as well as domains, and the provinces were virtually 
independent states. 

Advancing a step higher, we find the principle of division 
prevalent in the rules of succession which the customs of the 
Franks applied to the inheritance of their kings. It was coeval 
with the founder of the Merovingian line, for Clovis divided his 
states between his four sons. Charlemagne himself shared the 
inheritance of the dominions of Pepin with his brother Carloman ; 
and so deeply rooted was the principle that, notwithstanding his 
great comprehensive idea of a consolidated empire and of central 
unity in the administration, we find the restorer of the western 
empire dividing his dominions between his sons. The custom was 
followed by his successors, with results more and more disastrous ; 


for to the animosities and the ambitious projects of the rival 
princes of his race may be attributed, perhaps more than to any 
other cause, the dismemberment of his empire. "A kingdom 
divided against itself cannot but fall** 

Towards the close of the ninth century the political horizon was 
darkened by the sudden appearance of a portentous cloud which 
hung for a time on the frontier of civilization and then burst with 
fury on the fairest provinces of Europe. After a long and vari- 
ous peregrination from the borders of China, or the wilds of Sibe- 
ria and Lapland, the Turkish hordes of Hungarians approachmg 
the limits of the western empire settled in the Roman province of 
Pannonia, the modern kingdom of Himgary. Its occupiers the 
Moravians, who under their king Zwentibold had risen to preemi- 
nence over all the Sclavonian tribes, fled before them. Germany, 
Italy, France were blasted by the tempest ; and for half the ensu- 
ing century Europe trembled at their name. The deliverance of 
Christendom was achieved by the Saxon princes, Henry the Fow- 
ler, who rose from a bed of sickness to battle and victory, — and 
Otho the Great, who finally broke the power of the Hungarians. 

Such was the aspect of European affairs at the death of Alfred 
the Great. The dismemberment of the Carlovingian empire was 
complete, and anarchy universal. The royal authority was shat- 
tered, the ascendancy of the clergy quailed before the clash of 
arms. Power passed into the hands of the dukes and counts 
and lords among whom the territories were distributed ; end the 
people found their only hope of safety in rallying round those 
who were able to defend the country. From this anarchy and 
dismemberment resulted, after a terrible crisis, the organization of 
the territorial aristocracy in a vast hierarchy, which, connecting 
all classes in a regular chain of subordination and with reciprocal 
rights and duties — ^from the king to the serf attached to the soil — 
under the name of the feudal system, governed Europe for many 
succeeding centuries. 

Additional Note on the journey op king Ethblwulf and his son eome : see page 285. 

On reference to the " Harmony of the Chroniclers,'' pp. 17, 18, it will be seen 
that the Saxon Chronicle (with which Ethelwerd and Simeon of Durham corres- 


pond) notices only one journey of Alfred to Eome— that which is here referred 
to, — while Asser, Florence of Worcester, and Huntingdon represent the young 
prince as making a second journey to Borne, in company with Ethelwulf, two 
years later. A subsequent entry in the Saxon Chronicle (inserted in the " Har- 
mony'^ from a later MS.) suggests the idea that Alfred remained at Eome during 
the interval of the two journeys, and this would so far reconcile the two state- 
ments as they represent Ethelwulf and Alfred to have been at Eome together. 

But there is the additional difficulty, in accepting this last entry as authentic, 
that it makes the Pope (Leo) consecrate Alfred king " after that he had heard 
that Ethelwulf was dead,'^ whereas Leo himself died the same summer in which 
the two Saxon princes were at Eome, and Ethelwulf lived two years after his 
return ; besides which, there is no sort of evidence or probability that Alfred 
did not at least accompany his father Aome. 

Suspicion is said to attach to the whole account on the ground of the impro- 
bability that the young prince was consecrated king while he had elder brothers 
living. But all the Chronicles agree in that particular, and it is also clear that 
Alfred was a favourite son ; so that, in an elective monarchy, and at a time when 
the several kingdoms of the Heptarchy were scarcely consolidated, and parti- 
tions of territory were a common practice, it might be the policy of Ethelwulf 
to obtain so high a sanction to the pretensions of the best beloved of his sons to 
some share in the succession. It may abo be considered that the object of 
Ethelbald^s rebellion during his father's absence may have been to defeat the 
plans of Ethelwulf in favour of Alfred. 

It is also objected that Alfred's continued sojourn at Eome cannot be recon- 
ciled with his want of early education, as related by the chroniclers. In an age 
when it was a rare occurrence for a layman, of whatever rank, to be able to read 
or write, and particularly in the state of ignorance which Alfred himself describes 
as existing in his own times, there is no difficulty in accepting his own account 
of the late period at which he acquired the knowledge of letters, unless we adopt 
the suggestion of his having remained at Eome for a period of some duration. 
In his father's court his boyish years would probably be employed in active 
exercises and accomplishments, and his only mental acquirement might be learning 
by rote the old songs and ballads of his country which he afterwards took so mach 
pains to learn to read. But if the young prince resided for great part of three 
years in a most lettered and polished court, under the guardianship of so enligh- 
tened a prelate as Pius lY, the total neglect of the first rudiments of education in 
such a case seems wholly unaccountable. We incline therefore, on the whole, 
to the commonly received tradition of the repeated visit, particularly as the 
accounts in the Chronicles are not conflicting and all that can be said is — ^that in 
some of them the notice of the second journey is omitted. Taking that view, 
the very tender years of Alfred joined to the limited period of his first visit, and 
the distractions and unsettled state of affairs during the second, may account for 
a neglect which to our ideas appears almost incredible. 

I— ^* ^ 

S » S 5 






The beautiful gem, of which an engraTuig is given in thiswork^ 
was accidentally found, according to Gorham's History of St 
Neot's, "in 1693, at Newton Park, some distance north of the site 
of Athelney abbey in Somersetshire, near the junction of the Par- 
rot and the Thone ; the spot to which Alfred retired during the 
Danish troubles, and where he afterwards founded a monastery." 
It is now preserved in the Ashmolean museum at Oxford. In 
1698 it was in the possession of colonel Nathaniel Pahner, of 
Fairfield in Somersetshire ; and in 1718 it was deposited in the 
Ashmolean Musemn, by his son Thomas Palmer, esq. 

The gift of the jewel is registered among other donations as 
follows : 

A. D. 1718. Thomas Paliner de Fairfield in agro Somerset Arm. Yir doctrina 
et virtutum comitatu spectatissimas picturam aenis cujusdam (saocti forsaa 
Cathberti) auro crystalloqae munitam, inter cimdia hujusce muaei reponendam 
traosmisit. Perantiquum hoc opus magni quondam Al&edi peculiom Aeademke 
Oxon. legavit Thomas Palmer in eodem pago Militnm Tribunus. 

On a slip of paper in the same Register it is said : 

Perantiqunm hoc opus repertum erat prope Athelney pago Somersetensi 
oppidum ab Alfredo rege frequeutatum. 

The engraving was made to embellish a small volmne, publish- 
ed several years ago, on the " Coronation Service, or Consecration 
of the Anglo-Saxon kings, as it illustrates the origin of the 


Constitution, by the Rev. Thomas Silver, D. C. L. of St. John's 
College, Oxford; formerly Anglo-Saxon Professor. Oxford, 
printed by W. Baxter, for J. Parker ; and J. Murray, London. 
1831." The same author, — ^who has allowed his engraving to be 
used for the present work — in a letter to the duke of Marlborough 
and the Right Hon. Baron Churchill, Lay-Rectors of the manor 
and parish of Charlbury, on the sacrilege and impolicy of the 
forced Commutation of Tithes, &c. Oxford 1842, has made some 
further observations on the subject, modifying the explanation 
which he had given of the Gem in the former work. The Gem 
has been frequently described and engraved ; but all former re- 
presentations of it are infinitely inferior to the exact delineation 
of it which accompanies these remarks.' The main substance 
or setting of it is of pure gold, containing coloured stones, covered 
by a remarkably thick crystal, through which is seen the minia- 
ture, formed of enamelled mosaic, the compartments bemg let 
into cells of gold ; the figure is that of a man, holding a fleur- 
de-lis in each hand. Though manufactured nearly a thousand 
years ago, it is in perfect preservation, and only looks a little dull 
and dingy for the great length of time that has passed over it 
The length of the Gem is about two inches, and it is about half 
an inch thick. Roimd the edge are engraved the words Alfred 
MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN Alfred had me worked, in pierced gold let- 
ters. The narrow end of the Gem, at which the first and last 

(1) A loose description, by Dr Musgrave, appeared in 1698, with two figares. [Fliilot. 
Trans. Dec. 1698, No. 247, vol. xx, p. 441.] — It was noticed more at large by Dr Hickei 
in 1700. [Philos. Trans. No. 260, vol. xxii, p. 464.] — A very detailed but not quite accu- 
rate accoiuit was given by Dr Hickes in 1705, with engravings of the obverse, reverse, and 
edge , the first figure being from a drawing by sir Robert Harley. [Hickesii Liog. Vett 
Septent. Thesuar. torn. i. pp. viii. 142, 143. Oxon. 1705.] — It was described by Heame, in 
1711. [Heame*8 Dissertation on the word .£stel, pp. xxiv, xxv, prefixed to Leland'a Itine- 
rary, vol. vii, edit. Oxon. 1769.] — It again exercised the talents of Dr Musgrave, in 1715, 
in a very elegant dissertation, accompanied by three engravings. [Musgravius, De Icim- 
cula quondam M. Regis iElfredi. 1715. — The opinions of the two former antiquarians were 
reviewed by Mr Wise, in 1 722, whose criticism is accompanied with a figure of the obvene 
only. [Wise, in Asser. De Reb. Gest. iElfredi, App. pp. 171, 172. Oxon. 1722.] — Some 
criticisms by Mr Pegge, and by Dr Mills, appeared in 1765. [Archseologia, vol. ii, pp. 73, 
79.] — Engravings of this gem may be seen in Wotton, Ling. Vett. Septent. Thesaur. Con- 
spectus, p. 18, edit. 1708 ; Shelton's Translation of Wotton, with notes, p. 14, edit. 1735; 
Marmora Oxon. P. III. fig. cxxxvii, edit. Chandler, 1763 ; Camden's Brit. vol. i, p. 77, edit 
Gibson, 1722 , and vol. i, p. 59, edit. Gough, 1789 ; in Life and Times of King Alfred the 
Great by the Rev. Dr Giles ; and in Dr Pauli's Life of Alfred.--Most of these figures, how- 
ever, seem to be copied from Hickes's plate, with little variation ; they arc much too large, 
and distorted representations. 


words of this inscription meet, is formed into the head of some 
sea-monster, probably (says Dr Musgrave) a dolphin, or perhaps 
a griffin, the national emblem of the Saxons, having in its 
mouth a small tube, traversed by a strong rivet, to which a chain 
was doubtlessly attached ; on the reverse of the gem, the lower 
jaw is wanting, and its place is supplied by a scaly flat surface. 

As to the use to which this piece of jewelry was appropriated, 
opinion has been divided. Dr Hickes, Dr Musgrave, and the late 
Mr Whitaker, imagined that it must have been worn on the breast 
dependent from the chain that passed round the neck, in a way 
similar to ornaments which are still worn by kings and queens on 
state occasions. Some persons, however, have suggested that the 
rivet originally passed through some wooden stem to which it has 
been fixed, and which has perished. 

Mr Heame thought it probable that it was attached to the end 
of a cylinder, upon which a MS. was rolled, presented by the king 
to some monastery. Mr Wise and Mr Pegge conceived that it 
formed the head of a style.* Possibly it was mounted upon a 
standard, (after the manner of the Roman eagle,) or was elevated 
upon the summit of a staff, being carried into battle, for the piur- 
pose of animating the soldiers. This conjectiwe is hazarded as 
affording an easy solution of the fabulous narratives, which state 
that St Neot, after his decease, was the constant ' attendant ' and 
' forerunner ' of Alfred ; that he * accompanied ' the king in his 
engagement with the Danes near Chippenham, ^ led on the troops,' 
' preceded the standards,' ' fought in splendor before the army,' 
and ' gained the victory * for the Saxons. If we make some little 
allowance for the turgid expressions' of monkish chronicles, 

(2) King Alfred sent a copy of his translation of St Gregory's Pastoral, together with an 
iESTLE, to each cathedral. The work, from three of those very MSS., will he given in 
the second volume of the Jubilee Edition. 

(3) The following are the expressions in which these fables are recorded. << Ic )>e tofo- 
rcn fare." [Sax. Horn, on St Neot, MSS. Cott. Vesp. D. XIV, in Hist. St Neot's, p. 260.]— 
" Teque tuosque ducam.*' " Prsedux semper extiti tuus." Nonne videtis. Coram splendi- 
FERUM nobis bellare Neotumf " ''Palmipicds suus Nbotus." [Vita Sci Neoti, MSS. 
Bodl. 535, in Whitaker's St Neot.]—" Me (sc. Neoto) prsevio gaudebis et protectore." 
<* In itinere tuus extiti ductor." " Ego ante vos ibo, in conspectu meo cadent inimici." 
" Gloriosus servus Christi Neotus, signifer et prjevius, regis antecedebat exercitum ; quem 
videns Rex Alvredus, Commilitones, inquit, nonne videtis eum qui nostros content hostes? 
ti ndsse desideratis, ipse est procul dubio Neotus, Christi miles invictisiimus, per quem 
hodie PRiEsTo est in manibus nostris palma victorije ! " [Vita Sci Neoti, MSS. Cott. 

JEMayt 42 


(superstitiously referring ordinary occurrences to the miraculous 
agency of the saint whose merits it was their object to extol,) 
these fables may be naturally traced to the simple fact that the 
king was accustomed to have this image of his guardian saint 
near his person, and that he conducted his army under its sup- 
posed tutelary influence. An inspection of the figure, holding 
the flowering branches in his hands, almost realizes the singular 
expression of the monkish historians, ' Neotus palmificus ; * while 
the supposition that this image was elevated on a military banner, 
affords an easy interpretation to the apparently hyperbolical 
terms (as applied to a deceased saint,) ' Neotus signifer et prcevim 
Regis antecedebat exercitum.' 

*' Mr Whitaker * supposes (very plausibly) that, after the victory 
of Chippenham, king Alfred presented this Jewel to the monas- 
tery of Athelney, in testimony of his pious gratitude to St Neot ; 
' there, probably, it remained till the Reformation ; thence it was 
taken for plunder, or for preservation ; and, in its removal, was 
accidentally lost, not far from its old depository.' " 

The back of the Gem is a flat plate of gold (lying immedi- 
ately upon the back of the miniature), and ornamented with a 
fleur de lis, branching into three stems, and traced in gold, with- 
out stones. 

TTie front or principal face of the rehc is smaller than the 
back, in consequence of the edge sloping inwards a little all 
round, so that the words engraved on it do not stand upright, a 
contrivance probably adopted, for the purpose of giving more 
effect to the front of the jewel, and making it stand out in 
stronger relief. The back-ground of the picture, imder the 
crystal, is composed of a blue stone, on which appears a human 
figure, formed of enamelled mosaic, the compartments being let 
into cells of gold. The figure is that of a man, clothed in the 
green Saxon military vest or tunic, and girt with a belt, from 
which a strap for a sword depends towards the left side. The 
man is seated on the throne, with a cyne-helm or crown on its 
head, and in either hand he holds a sceptre, branching out, over 
the shoulders, into fleurs de lis. 

Claud. A. v., in MabiUon, Acta Sanct. Sec. IV, P. II, pp. 334, 335.]—." PnBcedam ante 
vexilla tua." [Chronicle of the Conventual Libr. of St Neot'is MSS. Trin. Coll. Camb. R. 
7. 28. in Gale Script. XX, Tom. I, p. 167.] 

(4) Whitaker's Life of St Neot, p. 273. edit. 1806. 


Various have been the conjectures • with regard to the figure 
on the obverse. Dr Hickes, in his Thesaurus, [vol. i, p. 144.]* 
expresses his doubt whether the figure may have been intended to 
represent Jesus Christ, or St Cuthbert, who was a patron of king 
Alfred, and is said in an old legend ^ to have assisted him in his 
distress. But the author of the History of St Neot's tells us, that 
it was St Neot ; because, as has been already remarked, he was the 
relative and the spiritual counseller of the king, and was venerat- 
ed by Alfred above all other * saints. On this subject Dr Silver 
observes, '' I thought formerly, that the figure in the Gem was a 
type of Alfred's office as king ; but I am now convinced, that the 
figure itself is that of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding that it is 
clothed in the military vest of the Saxons ; for it was the cus- 
tom of those times to draw characters in their own dresses. 
The position of the image is founded on a passage in the 45th 
Psalm, verse 3, and which is still retained in the present Corona- 
tion Service; where the bishop says, 'Remember of whom it is 
said. Gird thyself with thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most 

" This is therefore our Saviour, the belt of the sword being seen 
surmounted with fleurs de lis. Our Saviour, as the Melchizedec, 
carries the double sceptre, one on each shoulder, the long sceptre 
representing the invisible Church in heaven, the shorter that on 
earth ; both are surmounted with fleur de lis, or lilies, and both 
sceptres meet at a given point. Alfred was the first sovereign 
wrho was crowned with the tithe inherent in it, as attached to 
the order of Melchizedec. As the Anglo-Saxon kings and also 
the Normans considered themselves as the Gospelia or messen- 
gers of Christ, or the Vicarii Christi in terra, Alfred, under these 

(5) Hickes at first suggested that it was a figure of our Saviour, the lily-sceptre in each 
hand denoting his douhle reign, in heaven and in earth : Musgrave ultimately adopted the 
same opinion. Hickes thought it, however, not improhahle that it might he intended for 
the pope ; hut at last he concluded that it represents some saint ; he was led to this opinion 
from the inscription of a miniature of St Luke, in an ancient MS. of the Gospels, drawn in 
a nearly similar manner, holding a flowery cross in each hand, [Ling. Vett. Septent. Thesaur. 
torn. i. p. viii. fig. 5.] Wise conceived that it depicted king Alfred himself, on account of 
the helmet and military vest, in which (as he supposed) the figure is represented. 

(6) See also Musgrave, Phil. Trans, p. 247. Gesta Brit. 1716, and Wise*s Asser, Vita Alf. 
p. 171. 

(7) See Simeon in page 71 of the present work. 

(8) " Rex Alfredus, sanctorum pedibus acclivis et suhditus, S. Neotum in ■umnia vene- 
ratione habebat." Ingulphi Hist. Croyl. (Fulman, Script, p. 27.) 


impressions of his state, ordered this image of our Saviour to 
be made and he wore it round his neck ; from which probably it 

" Connecting this picture of Christ as the Melchizedec, the tithe 
of the King as the Vicarius Christi in terra, the ancient Corona- 
tion Service of the Anglo-Saxon kings, the laws of Alfred and 
his reference in them to the apostolic council of Jerusalem, we may 
collect from the circumstances that Alfred considered that the tithe 
had been granted by himself, the State, and the landholders, to 
the invisible Melchizedec in heaven, and that the Crown power 
was the great trustee of the rights which all parties held on 

Notwithstanding these observations, and the weight which must 
always attach to the opinion of persons so well versed in Anglo- 
Saxon Literature, the opinion which Dr Silver first promulgated, 
that the figure was an image of the king himself, and symbolical of 
the king's office, seems quite as tenable as the other. According 
to this view the two sceptres would aptly designate the spiritual 
and temporal authorities, which were united in the king's hands. 

Sir Francis Palgrave, in a letter to a friend at Oxford, describes 
the jewel in the following words : 

" Alfred's jewel, in the mechanical workmanship of the metallic 
portion, offers a close resemblance to the Icelandic ornaments, 
now made in the island, where the mode has probably continued 
by usage from the most remote periods. The enamel within, on 
the other hand, resembles some ornaments of the Carlovingian 
era now existing on the continent, which have been generally con- 
sidered as oriental. The head at the extremity of the ornament, 
is extremely like what is found in those architectural ornaments 
usually called Saxon, e. g. the porch of St Margaret's at York 
Whether St Neot be the personage represented in the enamel, I 
rather doubt, and I think it possible that the enamel itself was 
brought from the continent, and that the setting only was made 
in England. This would reconcile the two styles of workmanship : 
the metallic portion is unquestionably Anglo-Saxon, the enamel 
may be supposed to be from another country. But altogether it 
is one of the most curious relics of the kind — and no one, taking 
all the points of evidence together, can reasonably doubt but that 
it did belong to king Alfred." 


The whole of this enquiry rests on too slender data to enable 
us to form any very decided opinion as to the symbolical character 
of the relic — ^for it is a mere matter of conjecture as to its having 
a symbolical character at all. As a specimen however of gold 
working of the ninth century the gem is an object of much inte- 
rest, independently of its connection with our great and glorious 
king, and suggests many questions concerning the art of the gold- 
smith, as it was practised by our forefathers a thousand years 

Although this subject labours under great obscurity from the 
want of historical notices, yet a few passages are found in our old 
chroniclers and other writers which help us to form some defi- 
nite ideas. 

In the first place, it is conjectured that jewels in gold and 
silver were not only wrought with great elegance, but formed an 
article of contraband trade among the English even earlier than 
the reign of king Alfred. This inference seems justly to flow 
from a letter of Charlemagne to Offa king of Mercia, which, as 
Offa died in 795, must be referred to a date at least not later than 
that year. In this letter we find the following passage : " Con- 
cerning the strangers, who, for the love of God, and the salvation 
of their souls, wish to repair to the thresholds of the blessed 
apostles [i, e. to go on pilgrimage to Rome^ let them travel in 
peace without any trouble ; nevertheless, if any are found among 
them not in the service of reli^on, but in the pursuit of gain, let 
them pay the established duties at the proper places." As such 
pilgrims could not very well conceal about their persons merchan- 
dise of a more bulky kind, it is thought that trinkets of the pre- 
cious metals and stones of different sorts, were the articles which 
these pilgrims tried to smuggle. Moreover, if this be correct, such 
trinkets must have been wrought in England, and it even appears 
that the English jewellers, at this early period, were well known 
over all Europe. * We find among the Canons of Egbert archbishop 
of York, written about A. D. 750, a prohibition to Christians against 
imitating the manners of the Jews or partaking of their feasts ; 
which seems to prove that Jews were settled in the north of Eng- 
land so early as the middle of the eighth century : and we know that 
the Jews, wherever they have attained a footing, have carried with 

(1) Macphenon's Annals of Commerce, i, 248. 


them the trade in jewellery^ gold and silver ornaments^ and other 
such luxuries, hecause they have been excluded by the laws from 
almost every other occupation. 

*' King Alfred kept up, in the latter part of his life, a yearly com- 
munication with Rome ; and, as we learn from Asser, he correspond- 
ed with Abel, patriarch of Jerusalem, who sent him several valuable 
oriental commodities. His embassy to the Christians in India is 
mentioned, not only by Malmesbury and other authorities of the 
next age, but by the contemporary compiler of the Saxon Chronicle, 
who says that bishop Swithelm made his way to St Thomas and 
returned in safety. Malmesbury gives Sighelm as the name of the 
adventurous bishop of Sherborne, and relates that he brought back 
from India aromatic hquors and splendid jewels; some of the latter, 
Malmesbury says, were still remaining in the treasury of his church 
when he wrote in the twelfth century. Sighelm is stated to have 
left England in the year 883, and to have gone in the first instance 
to Rome, from which he probably sailed up the Mediterranean to 
Alexandria, and then made his way by Bassora to the Malabar 
coast, where it is certain that a colony of Syrian Christians who 
regarded St Thomas as their apostle, were settled from a very 
early period. Asser relates that he received on one occasion as a 
present from Alfred a robe of silk and as much incense as a strong 
man could carry : these precious commodities must have been 
obtained from the East." * Macpherson, in his Annals of Com- 
merce, thinks it also not impossible that mines of the precious 
metals may have been wrought at this time in England, and part 
of the produce exported, although the existence of such mines in 
the island is unnoticed by any historian since the beginning of the 
Roman dominion, with the exception of Bede. It is certain that 
large sums in gold and silver were raised in the country on dif- 
ferent occasions, and much coin or bullion repeatedly carried out 
of it ; audit appears difficult to comprehend whence all this wealth 
could be obtained with so few manufactures and so little exporta- 
ble produce of any kind. The early eminence of the Anglo-Saxons 
in the art of working gold and silver may be taken as another 
presumption that, whencesoever procured, there was no want of 
these metals in the island. ' We have undoubted proof,' says Mr 
Macpherson, ' that the English jewellers and workers of gold and 

(2) Pictc»rial History of England, vol. i, p. 266. 


silver were erftinent in their professions, and that probably as 
early as the beginning of the seventh century. ... So great was 
the demand for highly-finished trinkets of gold and silver, that 
the most capital artists of Germany resorted to England ; and 
moreover, the most precious specimens of foreign workmanship 
were imported by the merchants.' • On the other hand, articles in 
gold and silver seem to have been the chief description of manu- 
factured goods exported from England in this period." * 

(3) Macphenon, i, 290. 
(4) Pict Hist, of England, i, 269. 



1. Their origin. — 2. Their warlike deeds and character — 
3. Their religion — 4. Their polity, — 5. Their love and 
mode of war, — 6, Their manners, customs, and occu- 
pations. — 7. Their arts and language. 

1. The original of this extraordinary race is said to be of the 
very highest antiquity.' The Danes, Goths, Scythians or Getae, — 
for so they are variously denominated, — ^are offshoots of that 
great primitive stock, which migrating westward, settled in the 
Scandinavian peninsula or in the Cimbrian chersonese (Jutland) ; 
and called this region Danemarck, from Dan, their first king. 
Another branch passed over from the coast of Asia Minor to the 
islands, and thence expatiated over the western continent. " By 
these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands ; every 
one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." Gen. x, 5. 
That the former branch originated from Northern Asia, there is a 
further proof, that the Danes, before they became known by this 
name, were called Cimbri ; from the resemblance of which word 
to Cimmerian, we cannot doubt but that they sprang from the 
Cimmerian Scythians, whom the ancients place to the north of 
the Euxine and Caspian Seas. 

2. But, — not to dilate upon antiquarian ethnography — though 
this piratical nation was known to their Southern enemies by the 

(1) Hoc aiitem regnum est primum et vetustissimum regnuni mundi. Pet. Glaus. 
E»8ay« 4o 


common appellation of Danes, their armaments were composed 
not merely of the natives of Denmark, but of all the tribes dwell- 
ing near the Baltic, and in Scandinavia. These predatory hordes 
were sometimes called also by the general term of Northmen, 
including all those numerous tribes, that issued, from time to time, 
from the north of Europe, whether Danes, Norwegians, Sweons, 
Jutes, Goths &c. Too populous for their own inhospitable clime, 
cultivating an ungrateful soil, destitute of arts, manufactiu*es, and 
almost of commerce, they sought a home and sustenance in more 
favoured climes. Brigandage and piracy were their occupation, 
and as necessary to them, a3 carnage to \^ild beasts. Such ad- 
venturers, hardy, vigorous, brave, herculean in stature, and like 
their kindred the Saxons, having the same language, manners, 
habits, the same heathenish rites and superstitions, rude, cruel, 
indefatigable, and enterprising from necessity, would, under an 
able leader, prove indomitable ; with the spirit of the old Romans, 
they were as munerous as the ancient Persians. For, how great 
soever their losses of life either by field or flood, yet, like the 
fabled hydra, they seemed to gain strength and courage from dis- 
aster and defeat ; the warrior-sons of Thor and Woden were often 
vanquished, but never subdued. And in England, though they 
were, by the genius of Alfred, compelled to quit the kingdom 
(a. d. 879), after having been harassed, hunted, and almost extermi- 
nated by disease, famine, and the sword ; yet in the reign of hts 
successor, eleven years after, we find that *' England was inhabit- 
ed by an equal number of Saxons and Danes.'" 

A Danish writer,' with a national vanity savouring more of 
romance and fiction than of truth and reality, gives a pompous 
enumeration of the regions and kingdoms subjugated by his war- 
like ancestors ; these comprehend almost every part of tJie known 
world, even India, which is said to owe to one of their mooarchs 
the blessing of Gospel light' But such fables deserve to be 
mentioned, only to be ridiculed. For, whatever passed in 
Denmark, prior to the Christian era, is unknown to us, if we except 
the famous expedition of the Cimbri and Teutones, into GauL * 
This incident affords but a faint ray of Ught, which for a moment 

(2) Pet. Olaug, who wrote in the 16th century. 

(3) Id. (4) Mallet. 


brightens ages of obscurity ; short and transient however as it is, 
we gain an unerring glimpse at the character of this people. 

2. The history of Rome informs us, that the ancient Danes were as 
formidable in their invasions by land, as their descendants proved 
by sea. Issuing from their forests, they spread like locusts over 
Gaul, and threatened Italy. But the Romsm ambassadors, having 
remonstrated with them for having invaded the territories of their 
alhes the Norici, the Cimbri — ^as they were then called, because 
they came from the Cimbrian peninsula chiefly — excused them- 
selves by answering, that they knew not that the Norici were 
allies of the Romans, that they respected the Roman name and 
nation, and honoured martial valour even in an enemy ; and 
with this apology, retired into Dalmatia, little apprehensive 
of hostilities especially from the Romans^ upon whose vaunted 
good faith they relied. But they were suddenly attacked by a 
Roman consul. This outrage on the law of nations opened 
the flood-gates to a long and sanguinary war, most disastrous to 
the Romans, till their city was filled with grief and terror, so that 
many began to despair of the safety of the Republic. At length, 
the famous Marius, that most consummate general, was appointed 
to the conduct of the war, by whom the Cimbri, and the Teutones, 
their allies and a kindred race — another swarm from the great 
Northern hive, — were defeated, with the loss of 100,000 men, as 
Plutarch says, or according to others, of 200,000, and 70,000 
prisoners, in a battle at Aquae Sextiae in Provence, and in the 
following year, of 120,000 slain, and 60,000 prisoners.* Other 
writers content themselves with affirming, that the number of the 
slain was incredible ; and that the inhabitants of Marseilles, for a 
long time after, made enclosures for gardens and vineyards with 
their bones, and the soil in the suburbs was so saturated with 
blood, that its fertility was prodigious.* So highly appreciated 
were the victories of Marius, that there was bestowed on him the 
glorious title of the third founder of Rome. 

From this incident, authenticated by the most veritable historian 
of Roman affairs, we learn that these Cimbri, or Danes, were the 
most formidable enemies the conquering Romans ever encountered. 

(5) Aspen *8 Universal History. 

(6) Sed et hostes terrain Massilienscm, quam vivi vaBtaverant, mortui magno affecemnt 
commodo, nam ossa in sepes vinearum versa, tabo carnium ita pinguefacta arva sunt, ut 
nuiiqiiam largiori segetc luxuriaverint. Liv. Epitome lib. 68, 31. 


Their inexhaustible numbers, their uncommon prowess, tallness 
of stature, and unusual manner of fighting, and their former victo- 
ries, overawed the veteran legions of Rome, whom nothing short of 
the vigour, discipline, and address of a general like M arius, could 
induce to face such an enemy. 

This memorable expedition drew, for the time, the attention of 
Europe ; but, as arts and literature alone can ensure lasting 
celebrity to a nation, and because men quickly forget those evils 
which they no longer fear, this torrent of an army had no sooner 
retired within its former bounds, than the Romans themselves 
lost sight of it ; so that we scarcely find in their writers any 
further mention of these once formidable Cimbri. Strabo merely 
informs us, that they subsequently sought the friendship of 
Augustus Caesar, — a proof of their fallen fortunes ; and Tacitus, 
that their state was, in his day, inconsiderable, but their renown 
was as ancient as extensive.' 

But redoubtable as the Danes were as warriors, and far'and 
wide as they carried their arms, they never succeeded in found- 
ing . an empire in foreign lands ; they became amalgamated 
with hostile people ; but never established an independent domi- 
nion. Though often victors in the field, they were never the 
conquerors of nations ; for the true and permanent conqueror is 
he, who knows how to make laws for the vanquished, to administer 
a good policy, and to rule with equity and moderation ; and such 
was the policy of the Romans, '' Parcere subjectis," which gave 
them the dominion of the world. It was the Senate by its 
wisdom, not the Roman army by its prowess, that made them the 
lords of the earth. It is mind, not matter, sage counsel, not brute 
force, that gains a lasting ascendant. Arms abroad avail but 
little, unless there is wisdom at home. The Northmen, therefore, 
entirely ignorant of the arts of peace, — whose commanders were 
soldiers, whose object was plunder rather than glory, — had the 
means, but not the policy, to make themselves masters of Europe. 
In England they domineered for a while ; but so intolerable was 
their yoke, that the overjaded English threw it off, and the king- 
dom reverted to the ancient Saxon line. 

(6) Parva nunc civitas ; sed gloria ingens, veterisque famae late vestigia roanent. Tac. 
Germ. c. 37. 


Warriors they were ; but no legislator or politician among them, 
till Rollo the Peaceable acquired the dominion of Neustria or 
Normandy, which he consolidated by a wise system of jurispru- 
dence. Under such a head the Northmen were no longer pirates, 
but conquerors. We know with what inflexibility he dispensed 
justice. He abolished theft among his subjects, who had hitherto 
lived by rapine ; and long after his death the very mention of his 
name was a summons to the officers of justice to run and suppress 
violence. He thus perpetuated his power and dynasty in France, 
over the fairest province of that kingdom for five centuries, and 
Duke William, treading in the steps of his renowned ancestor, 
became the conqueror and king of England, over which his poste- 
rity have reigned for eight hundred years. 

The Danes have been by all historians stigmatised as a cruel 
people ; and such a charge is more than probable. For nations, 
even the more civilized, whose chief occupation is warfare, becom- 
ing familiar with scenes of blood, are steeled against human suf- 
fering. It is not, then, surprising that a rude, stern race from a 
rugged climate, inured to hardship and danger both by land and 
sea, should be ferocious and sanguinary. Nothing can be more 
dreadful and revolting, than the manner in which these barbarians 
made their invasions ; they spared neither age, sex, nor condition. 
One of their own chieftains, protesting against the custom of the 
soldiery, — that of tossing infants upon the points of their spears, 
acquired the nicname of Bumakal, or the Preserver of infants. 
But let us take their moral portraiture from our own historian 
Holinshed, who drew his facts from the most veracious sources : 
" So great was their lordliness, cruelty, and insatiable desire of 
riches, beside their detestable ^abusing of chaste matrons and 
young virgins (whose husbands and parents were daily enforced 
to become their drudges and slaves, whilst they sat at home and 
fed like drone bees, of the sweet of their travail and labours) that 
God would not suffer them to continue any while oyer us, but 
when He saw his time, he removed their yoke, and gave us liberty 
as it were to breathe us, thereby to see whether this his sharp 
scourge could have moved us to repentance and amendment of 
our lewd and sinful lives, or not. But when no sign thereof ap- 
peared in our hearts, he called in another nation to vex us, I mean 
the Normans, a people mixed with Danes, and of whom it is 


worthily doubted whether they were more hard or cruel to our 
countr)rmen than the Danes^ or more heavy and intolerable to 
our island than the Saxons or the Romans/' (Vol, I, p. 6). This 
grave and sensible author (whose moral reflections are like apples 
of gold in pictures of silver) repeating the concurrent testimony 
of all our ancient Chroniclers, has however, like them, overlooked 
the cause of the inhumanity of the Northmen. This spirit was 
the dictate of religion, rather than the impulse of wantonness and 
barbarity ; for they were taught, that human sacrifices were 
acceptable to their gods and to the manes of those slain in battle : 
accordingly, they always decimated their prisoners, putting every 
tenth captive to death by the most excruciating tortures/ 
Tantum relligio potuit suadere maloram. 
But, if their cruelty was great, their insolence was greater. 
^' For if a Dane met an Englishman upon a bridge (says J. Bromp- 
ton) the latter would not presume to stir a foot, until the Dane 
had crossed ; nay further, if the English did not bow the head in 
honour of the Dane, they quickly felt the grievous punishment oi 
stripes." " Hardecanute suffered the Danes to domineer to such 
a pitch, that every family through the kingdom had one Dane as 
the guard and master of the house, and thus (says H. Knyghton) 
they defloured our wives, daughters, and maid-servants, and 
inflicted many insults and indignities on our own countrymen, to 
the dishonour and disgrace of the English.** And similar is the 
testimony of all our Chroniclers. 

3. It is not easy to form a just idea of the religion of those 
tribes who occupied the North of Europe. What we find in Taci- 
tus and others, is vague and uncertain. The only genuine source 
from which any clear views may be drawn hereon, is, that sum- 
mary of Icelandish Mythology, called the Edda, the Bible of the 
northern heathens. Let us, then, taking this as our guide^ exam- 
ine this religion in its purity.* ^* He was the author of all that 
exists, the Eternal, the Ancient, the Living and Awfid One, the 
Searcher-out of hidden things, the Immutable." To him arc 
attributed *' power infinite, knowledge without bounds, justice in- 

(7) Sidon. 1. VIII. Symmachus, 1. II. 

(8) Tacitas asseils that the Germans believed — what indeed reason teaches to all men^ 
the being of a Supreme God, to whom all things were subject and obedient. <* Regnator 
omnium Deua ; caetera subjecta atque parentia. c. Sfi. And whatever is recorded concern- 
ing this people, is equally applicable (we repeat) to the Northmen, 


corruptible/' • " He is the Universal Father ; He lives for ever ; 
He governs all kingdoms, and directs great things as well as small. 
He hath formed the heavens, earth, and air ; He hath made more 
than the sky and the earth ; He hath made mankind, and given 
to him a soul that shall Uve and never be lost, even after the body 
shall have vanished into dust and ashes. And all just men shall 
dwell with Him in a place called Gimlee, i. e. the palace of peace 
and harmony ; but the wicked shall go down to Hella or death ; 
and thence to Nifhleim, which is below in the ninth world.** 
This sublime doctrine is the sum of all natural religion, so far as 
mere reason can carry us, teaching the Unity of the Godhead, 
the immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and 
punishments. This religion forbids the representation of the 
Deity under any corporeal form, as derogatory to his greatness 
and also the confining within the walls of a temple, of Him who 
is Immensity, whose temple is the Universe, and whose altar is 
the whole earth : like the ancient Persians, and the Druids they 
consecrated to Him woods and groves, in the dark, silent and 
awful recesses of which they might contemplate the Deity seem- 
ingly present.*" 

But this pure fountain of worship at length became turbid and 
corrupt with the taint of idolatry and polytheism ; the pure gold 
was alloyed and almost lost amidst the dross. For from this 
Great Supreme they drew^ as it were emanations, an infinite host 
of inferior divinities. The sun, moon, stars, earth, water, trees, 
forests, rivers, mountains, thunder, and tempests had each its pre- 
sidmg deity or genius. And these are the chief traits of that 
ancient heathenism, common, in the earliest ages, to almost all the 
nations of Europe, and without doubt to many in Asia, even till 
the decline of the Roman repubUc, that is, till the dawning of 
Christianity. And such is the tendency of all reUgious system^ 
however pure their origin, and however enlightened their foun- 
ders. For men are by nature so gross, weak, and carnal, so nar- 
row in the ideas they form of their Creator, that they cannot con- 
ceive how that God, who fills immensity with his presence, 

(9) This work has been translated by Mallet. See his Introduction to the Hist, of Den- 
mark, pp. 48, 9. 

(10) Caeterum ne cohibere parietibus Deos, neque in ullam humani oris speciem assimi- 
lare, ex magnitudine coelestiuni, arbitrantur. Lucos ac nemora consecrant, Deorumque 
nominibus appellant secretiim illud quod sold reverentiA vident. Tacit. Germ. c. 9. 


whose centre is every where, can be present every where at the 
same moment ; how He who made all things by the word of His 
mouth, can sustain and inform them by the same power ; how that 
Being who is present to all, cannot but be attentive to all, and 
will, therefore, hear their prayers, and minister to their wants. 
Thus enveloped in a cloud of ignorance, they have had re- 
course in time of need, to what they imagined, like all nations 
ignorant of the nature of the true God, to be a more speedy, cer- 
tain, and available help, and invoked a host of false deities and 
tutelar spirits, demons, or angels, to the general neglect of the 
only and true God, Hence His image being gradually effaced 
from their hearts, they drew the moral attributes of their imagi- 
nary divinities to the standard of their own character, as those 
who took delight in the display of courage in battle, and in the 
infhcting of vengeance, in carnage and desolation. And, as war 
was the dominant passion among the northern nations, before 
the arrival of Odin among them from Scythia, he became, from 
his prowess, cruelty, success in battle, and his powers as a magi- 
cian, the very Being to their hiunom^ and habits. Appearing to 
them something superhuman, his apotheosis and that of his com- 
panions in arms, was the natural result. But what a God I instead 
of a merciful and just One, the maker and sustainer of heaven and 
earth ; the Author of all good, the rewarder of the virtuous, we 
find him depicted in the Icelandish Mythology, as '* the Grod of 
war, the terrible and severe God, the father of slaughter, the Depo- 
pulator ; the Incendiary, the active and roaring Deity, he tfiat 
giveth victory, who re-animates the combatants, who nameth 
those who are to be slain," 

As this monster of humanity was the principal Deity, like the 
Jupiter of the Latins, so was Friga, or Frea, his wife the principal 
goddess. She became, in the sequel, the patroness of love and 
debauchery, the Venus of the North, and, like her prototype, 
passed for the principle of all fecundity — ^for the mother of all 
that exists. It was to her that women addressed themselves to 
obtain happy marriages and prosperous accouchments. She was 
the dispenser of sensual pleasures, repose, and voluptuousness. 

The third in this monstrous Theology, was the redoubtable 
Thor, the God of Thunder. He was always represented as bearing 


a massive club or mace, indicative of his immense strength. In 
these three Persons have we not a ghmpse of the Heathen 
Trinity, denoting wisdom, love, and power ? To this Deity they 
dedicated the fifth day of the week, Thor'sday, as to the Sun and 
Moon, the first and second ; to Woden, the fourth, or Woden's-day, 
as Tuesday, to the God Tuisco, Friday, to Friga, and Saturday, 
to a divinity, called Soter. To another goddess, named Eoster, 
they dedicated the month of April, or that period of the year 
subsequent to the vernal Equinox, when the wind blows usually 
from the East ; and was, therefore, favourable to their maritime 

But we refer the curious and learned, for more ample infor- 
mation upon this part of our subject, to the elaborate work of M. 
Pelloutier.* But as to the many popular fictions which their 
poets taught to the credulous people, — fictions sometimes in- 
genious, and oftener puerile, with which they sought to gloss 
over the pure and ancient reUgion, — we may not believe, that the 
intelligent portion of those nations looked upon them in any 
other light. 

The manners and customs, as the religion of the Scandi- 
navians, differed little from those of the Saxons ; but in human 
sacrifices, the former were far more cruel. Ditmarus, an ancient 
bishop, writes thus : '^ Because I have heard wonderful reports 
of the ancient sacrifices of the Danes and Normans, I will not 
pass it by imnoticed. At certain seasons they assemble, and 
sacrifice, to their Gods, ninety-nine men, as many horses and 
dogs and cocks, instead of hawks, assuring themselves, that 
hereby their Gods are fully pleased and pacified.**' And not 
only the vulgar, but men of rank and quaUty were the victims, 
especially in times of great danger and extremity, thinking that 
the more noble the victim, the more appeasable will be the Gods. 
Nay, their very kings • were unspared. The first king of Werm- 
land, a petty province in Sweden, was burnt in honour of Odin, 
to put an end to a great dearth ; and kings, in their turn, spared 
not the blood of their subjects, or even of their children. For, 
Hacon king of Norway offered his own son, to obtain of Odin a 
victory over his enemy Harold*; and Anne, king of Sweden, 

(1) Histoire des Celtes. (2) See also Camden and Speed. 

(3) Wormius, in Monum. Danica and North Antiq. I, p. 134. (4) Saxo-Gram. 1. X. 

EsMjn ^ * 


devoted to the same God the lives of nine sons, to prevail on 
him to prolong his life,* It is also reported that, when the 
inhabitants became too numerous, they selected the young men 
by lot, whom they drove forth like bees from a hive, to possess 
themselves of settlements in a foreign land, by the sword. While 
sending forth these emigrants, they offered human sacrifices for 
the success of the enterprise, deeming them the most precious 
and acceptable of all burnt-offerings to their sovereign God 
Thor/ But the true cause of these emigrations may have arisen 
not so much from scarcity of food and poverty of soil, — ^for the 
earth, even in such a rugged climate, is ever bountiful and 
rewards those who cultivate her, — as from the roving, restless, 
and adventurous spirit of the people, and the desire of winning 
the lands of others by the glory of the sword, rather than, 
by the drudgery of the plough, of cultivating their own. 

In the catalogue of their various superstitions stand foremost 
Witchcraft, and Divinations by lots and augury, "Auspicia 
sortesque ut qui maxime observant," says Tacitus. These may 
be, in some degree, palliated, since the former, a system of knavery 
and delusion, was rife all over Europe long after the period of 
the Reformation, and in England was not wholly extinct 
even at the opening of the last century ; the latter was prevalent 
among the enlightened Greeks and Romans. Their divination 
by lots was simple, and was performed by cutting slips of wood 
from a fruit-bearing tree, which were distinguished by various 
marks, or notches. These they jumbled in a white bag. Then, 
the priest, if it was a public occasion, or the father of a family, 
if private, implored the favour of their Gods; and raising his 
eyes to heaven, took up one slip three times successively, and 
prognosticated good or evil, according to the marks fortuitously 
presented. Future events were divined not only by the flight 
and singing of birds, but by the neighing of horses, which they 
considered as the ministers of the Gods, and these were fed in 
woods and groves at the public expense. But the circumstances, 
from which they drew their sxurest presages touching the issue of 
a war, was the decision by a single combat between one of 

(5) Wormius, I, p. 28. 

(0) Dudo de StQuentin. — Deorum maxime Mercurium colunt, qui certis diebus humanis 
quoque hostiia litare fas habent. Tacit. Germ. c. 9. 


their own champions and a captive of the nation, against which 
they had commenced hostilities.' 

But amid all this dross we discover in their creed, according to 
the Edda, some grains of pure gold : notwithstanding the cor- 
ruptions which subsequent ages introduced among them, (as we 
have already seen) they believed in that sublime and sacred 
doctrine, which reason, no less than revelation teaches, — the 
immortahty of the soul. But even this belief was debased and 
alloyed by the notions and vagaries of a sensual Paradise, and, 
like the Mahometans, they thought that perfect bliss awaited those 
who fell on the battle-field. ''The Cimbri are gay and coura- 
geous ; * they leap for joy in battle ; and rejoice, when they are 
about to quit life in so glorious a cause ; but in sickness and old 
age they lament, fearing a shameful and inglorious death." 
*' Surely, says Lucan, this people of the north are happy in their 
delusion ! for the fear of death, the greatest dread to mankind, 
troubles them not; and thus they are ready to rush on the 
sword, and their souls to embrace death, thinking it the part of a 
coward to spare a life which they shall soon recover." Read the 
words of the original : 

'' Certe populi quos despicit Arctos 
Felices errore suo ! quos ille timorum 
Maximus baud urget lethi metus ; inde ruendi 
In f errum mens •prona viris, animaeque capaces 
Mortis, et ignavum rediturae parcere vitae." 

Lucan, lib. I. 
In fine, their religion, as attaching to the profession of arms 
eternal salvation and happiness, wrought these deluded men to 
the highest pitch of enthusiasm for a military life. Neither 
fatigue, dangers, nor torments could moderate this passion, which 
was to be crowned with so lasting and blissful a recompense. 
Such was that happy futurity, the prospect of which rendered 
the inhabitants of northern Europe so intrepid, not merely defjdng, 
but courting, death. King Regner,' when on the eve of dissolu- 
tion, far from uttering groans or complaints, expressed his joy in 
these verses : " We are hewn in pieces by the sword ; but this 
fills me with joy, when I think of the feast [preparing for me in 

(7) Smollett's England. (8) Val. Maximus, II. c. 6. 

(9) Mallet, I, p. V2l. 


Odin's palace. There quietly seated in the splendid habitations 
of the gods, we shall drink beer out of the skulls of our enemies. 
A brave man fears not to die. I shall utter no timorous words, 
as I enter the hall of Odin." And again : '* What is the happy 
portion of , the brave, but to fall in the midst of arrows ? he that 
flies from wounds, drags out a tedious, miserable life. The 
dastard feels no heart in his bosom."'* Thinking as they did 
every kind of death ignominious, but one of a violent nature, no 
wonder that the Northmen should have made war the only 
honourable profession, and carried valour to such extravagant 
excesses. Death, to the soldier at least, had no terror; he 
could approach it without dismay. A warrior, who was wasting 
by a lingering sickness, would shorten an inglorious life by a 
glorious death, desiring to be carried to the battle to die by the 
enemy's hand. Others slew themselves ; many procured this 
melancholy service at the hands of friends, who considered this 
sort of voluntary murder as a sacred duty, deeming that a happy 
exchange, which gave them happiness and repose for ever, instead 
of a life of mourning, misery, disquiet, and danger. 

To such a misguided race constant warfare was, we repeat, not 
at all strange ; however strange to a man who reasons coolly as a 
Christian. It is but as yesterday, that mankind began to be sen- 
sible of the blessings of peace, of the advantage of cultivating the 
arts, industry, and commerce. The farther we look back into 
history, we discover mankind to be more engaged in war, divided 
among themselves for no cause, and unnaturally bent upon each 
other's destruction, from a spirit of revenge, or jealousy, of plun- 
der or fanaticism. Three thousand years ago the face of Europe 
presented the same spectacle as three hundred years ago did the 
forests of America, viz, a thousand petty wandering tribes, with- 
out cities, towns, or even homes, without agriculture, arts, com- 
merce, and therefore property, except a few herds and huts, or 
what they gained by pillage, harassing each other by inroads, 
attacks, fire and sword, sometimes conquering, sometimes con- 
quered, preying like wild beasts upon each other; nay, worse 
than these ; for the beasts abstain from their kind ; but no crea- 
ture more cruel than man to his fellow-man. In such a state of 
rapine and mischief, life being so precarious, has but few charms. 

( 1 0) Extract from five Runic Odes published by Dodsley. 


Life is a real blessing to him alone, who knows and feels the 
pleasures of domesticity, the enjoyment of property, society, kin- 
dred, of the fruits of industry, the protection of laws, and who 
has a relish for those arts that soften our manners, embellish life, 
and endear us to it. 

4. The character of the ancient northern nations we have 
attempted, in some measure, to develope. The government and 
laws of those obscure countries are to us little known. Scarcely 
does any author of note and authority throw any light upon 
their polity, except Tacitus, in his short, but masterly Treatise 
upon the manners of the ancient Germans, in which he has com- 
prised the most prominent traits of the people of that vast coun- 
try. What he has recorded concerning their polity, is a morsel 
too precious, not to be here translated entire : " In the election of 
their kings, they have a regard to their birth, of their chiefs, 
to their virtue or merit.* Affairs of minor interest are decided by 
the grandees ; but those of importance, by the general assembly 
of the people. They have certain days of assembling ; and, when 
the king or chief has given his opinion, each speaks in turn, 
according as he is eminent for valour, birth, or understanding, 
but deference is paid rather to reason than to the individual. If 
they disapprove his opinion, they signify so by a murmur ; if 
they approve, they make a noise by clashing their spears ; for 
they always resort to their assemblies, clad in armour. And to 
clash their arms, is deemed the most respectful way of confessing 
assent or conferring praise " 

" It is in these assemblies also, that criminals are tried and 
punished. Here too are elected those magistrates, who are to 
dispense justice through the towns and villages, and each dele- 
gate takes with him a hundred persons, to assist him by their 
authority and advice. . . . The king's grandeur consists in 
seeing himself surrounded by a brave and numerous youth, who 
are to him an ornament in peace, a security in war. . . When 
they come to the combat, it is dishonourable for the king not to 
be foremost in the action ; and the people make a vow, to follow 
him every where, and defend him. His glory is the end and aim 
of their noblest exploits ; and it is an indelible infamy to survive 

(1) Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt &c. 


him in the battle ; for the prince fights for victory, and they, for 
the prince. . . . The public, as also individuals, make presents 
to the prince, as well out of the revenue of their lands as of their 
flocks, — a custom which is a source of profit and a token of 
esteem to him, and the Prince, on his part, bestows on those who 
fight for him either a war-horse or a victorious and bloody lance. 
. . . Nor is the power of the kings free and imlimitei . . - 
The leaders set an example of valour, rather than give orders. 
If these are foremost and conspicuous in the field, they are held 
in esteem and admiration. . . . Illustrious descent and the 
merits of their fathers entitle even striplings (adolescentulos) to 
the monarch's favour. And, as these advance in age, other youth- 
ful warriors attach themselves to the prince's retinue. . . . They 
have different ranks according to the judgment of the chief; 
and, among his followers (comites) is the highest emulation, who 
shall stand foremost in his favour ; and the princes are equally 
emulous, who shall have the most numerous and most valiant in 
their train. This is their dignity, this their strength, to be sur- 
rounded by a choice company of young men. Thus formidable, 
they are courted by embassies, and honoured by presents ; and 
the mere terror of their name often averts a war.* ... If there 
be no employment for the warriors at home, they voluntarily re- 
sort to other nations engaged in war. For to retain them in his 
service, the prince has no other resource than war. And they 
would rather challenge the enemy and serve for woimds, (mereri 
vulnera) than plough the soil and wait for the produce. Nay, it 
appears to them the part of a dastard to earn by the sweat of the 
brow what a man can acquire by the glory of the sword.** 

This valuable little treatise of the sententious Historian, — ^the 
most prominent points in which are given in the above desultory 
extracts, — is a most faithful epitome of the religion, polity, man- 
ners, customs, and habits of the inhabitants of Germany, no less 
than of Northern Europe, prior and subsequent to the Christian 
age. In it we discover the character, especially, of the ancient 
Gothic form of government Here we see kings of illustrious 
descent, presiding over rather than ruling a free people. Here 
we discern the nucleus of the British Constitution, which came 
forth originally from the forests of Germany. Here we behold a 

(2) Et ipsa plerumque fama bella profligavit. 


brave and independent nation, a^embUng at certain times, and 
making resolutions in their own persons (as we by our represen- 
tatives) on all affairs of importance, enacting laws, deciding on 
peace or war, concluding alliances, dispensing justice, appointing 
magistrates, and deliberating on the public weal. We trace here 
the outline of a House of Peers, or what in other European 
States was styled " The Grand Council," the General Assembly, &c. 
with an exception that the monarchies of modern Europe are 
hereditary, not elective, — an improvement, perhaps, upon the 
antient polity. We discover moreover, in the same, the origin of 
the feudal system. For though Tacitus informs us, that eminent 
services were rewarded by the gift of a horse or lance, in the 
earUer times ; yet, when territorial acquisitions were increased by 
conquest, such services were requited by donations of a more 
substantial character, by grants of conquered lands on military 

In effect, we recognize in these swarms of Germans and Scandi- 
navians a host of savage warriors, who seemed bom only for 
ravage and destruction, changed into an orderly and politic com- 
munity, as soon as they had confirmed their conquests, infusing 
into their institutions a spirit of equity and justice, electing for 
kings such of their princes, as they judged most deserving of the 
crown, dividing between those kings and the whole nation the 
exercise of the sovereign power ; reserving to the general assem- 
blies the making of laws, and deciding public measures ; and 
lastly, to give solidity to the powers essential to a limited monarchy, 
assigning certain privileges to the several orders of the State. 

Our often-quoted Historian further states, that the Germans 
had among them foiur classes or ranks, the hereditary nobles 
(ingenui,) the nobles by election, the freemen, and slaves. These 
orders subsisted among the Danes also, according to Adam Bre- * 
mensis;' and other authors speak to the same effect of the 
Saxons, as well those, who with the Angles settled in Eng- 
land, as those who settled in Germany.* The first class were 
those, who, by their very extraction and independently of the 
royal favour, were reputed noble. Among the second were com- 
prised, besides the nobles properly so called, all those who held 
great offices at court, or in the provinces, as senators, governors, 

(3) See Mallet, p. 111. (4) Id. 


and the free proprietors of lands, who out of their revenues fur- 
nished, in part, the expenses of the wars, and in fine, all those 
professed warriors, who, without being always free-born or noble, 
obtained the privileges and immunities of the nobility, on condi- 
tion that they should be ready in arms for the king's service, in 
the event of a war. The third class were the freemen, in which 
stood mercenaries, farmers, and all kinds of artisans, who enjoyed 
no consideration among this warlike people. The fourth and 
last were the slaves. This last owed its origin and increase to the 
rigour of the rights of nations in that rude age, and was admitted 
among all the Celtic tribes, and which delivered over the van- 
guished to the discretion of the victors ; so that the clemency of 
the latter was ordinarily confined to leaving to the former their 
lives, by taking their Uberty. The slaves of the soil, the astricti 
glebce, were, of course, comprehended in this class, which sur- 
vived the other, which was abolished in Denmark, as every where 
else, as Christianity spread a more benign and gentle spirit. 

To descant upon the laws of ancient Denmark, even if it did 
not exceed our limits, would yet prove a dry, abstruse, and even 
tedious subject to any but the antiquary ; however, the curious 
we may refer for such information to " Mallet's Introduction &c.* 
pp. 107 — 124. But, among other singularities, the Judiciary 
Combat, as well as the TriaJ by Ordeal, both by fire and water, 
were in vogue, for many ages, among all Christianized Europeans. 
The former, how absurd soever, was yet so intimately connected 
with their opinions concerning destiny and providence, that it 
triumphed, for a long time, over religion, popes, and councils; 
though a hundred times proscribed and anathematized, it was 
often revised imder different forms.* With regard to the trial by 
water, they reasoned, the northerns at least, upon this principle : 
they imagined that all the elements were inhabited by some intd- 
h'gence, or emanation of the Creator of all things. They, there- 
fore, thought that the fairest test of guilt or innocence was, to 
plunge the accused into the liquid element, whose in-dwelling 
spirit would declare, by his manner of receiving him, what judg- 
ment he entertained of the unfortunate victim. For victim he 
was at all events : if he sank, that is, if the genius of the water 
received him into his bosom, it declared him to be innocent ; if it 

(5) Mallet and Wormius, in Mon. Danic. 


rejected him, that is, if he swam upon the surface, he was looked 
upon as convicted of the crime. In either case, therefore, he 
had little or no chance of escape. A similar process was also 
practised upon those ill-starred wretches, denominated witches ; 
for there was held a vulgar superstition, that the sacred element, 
used in baptism, would reject so foul a reprobate, who employed 
imps, and had converse with the devil. 

But the ordeal by fire is of far higher antiquity, of it we find 
some instances among the more civilized Greeks and Romans. 
In the Antigone of Sophocles is the following remarkable passage : 

" The guards accused each other ; nought was proved. 

But each suspected each, but all denied. 

Offering in proof of innocence to grasp 

The burning mass, to walk thro' fire, and take 

Their solemn oath they knew not of the deed." 

And Pliny, speaking of an annual feast, celebrated by the 
ancient Romans, in honour of the sim, observes that the priests, 
Mrho were to be of the family of the Hirpi, danced bare-foot upon 
Ignited heaps of wood. And for this supposed merit they were 
by a decree of the Senate exonerated for ever from military 
and all other public services. 

To such trials the Christian nations even gave the name of 
divine Judgments, and not only to these, but to conflicts of all 
sorts, victory being with them the only certain token, whereby 
Providence enables men to distinguish those, whom it has ap- 
pointed to command others. *' Valour,** says a German warrior, " is 
the only proper blessing of men ; the Gods range themselves on 
the side of the strongest.** (Hist. IV, c. 1 7.) 

5. We have hinted that the Scandinavian polity breathed nothing 
but war. It was at once among these people the source of 
honour, riches, and safety. Their education, laws, prejudices, 
morality and religion, all conspired to make it the dominant 
passion and the main object of their institutions. They were 
from their earliest youth trained, like the Spartans, to those 
pursuits and exercises, which harden the body, and inure it to cold, 
fatigue, and hunger. They accustomed themselves to the race, 
the chace, to swimming across the broad and rapid stream, and 
to the wielding of ponderous arms. All the games of youth were 

Ettayi ^^ 


directed to the same end ; dangers were always mixed up with 
amusements." These consisted in taking perilous leaps, climbing 
the steepest rocks, fighting naked with deadly weapons, and in 
wrestling ; so that it was not uncommon to see them, at fifteen 
years, robust full-grown men, quaUfied for a vigorous combat 
It was also at this age, that they were emancipated from tutelage, 
when a buckler, sword, and lance were formally presented to 
them. This ceremonial was performed in some public assembly, 
in which the father, or, in his default, the nearest of kin, publicly 
armed the young warrior. *' This " says Tacitus " was his toga virilis, 
his taking his station in society ; before this, he was part of a 
family ; now he is become a member of the state.** After this, 
he was required to provide for himself by the chace, or by inroads 
upon an enemy. Especial care, too, was taken to prevent the 
youthful citizen from too early a commerce with the sex, till 
his limbs had acquired all the vigour, of which they were 
susceptible. He could never hope to make his way into the 
hearts of the fair, but by the road of war and arms. Those 
mothers, whose children were generally bom in the midst of 
camps, military sports, combats real or imeiginary, and the effusion 
of blood, were not hkely to enervate their offspring by too much 
tenderness and indulgence ; so that their very infancy was imbued 
with the warlike spirit of their sires and the stem temper of the 

Their offensive weapons ^ were the sword, the battle-axe, a 
bow and arrows. The first of these was short, curved generally 
like a sc5miitar, and hung from a little belt, that passed over the 
right shoulder : sometimes they wore a long straight weapon, that 
bore a different name; the former being called Sword, the latter. 
Spade or Spada, — a word found in almost all the languages of 
Europe. And these the Cimbri used.* The heroes or champions 
took especial care to have very keen swords, which they orna- 
mented with mysterious characters, and to which they gave such 
names as might inspire terror. The battle-axe had two edges. 
Besides these ordinary arms, these fierce warriors made use, 
at their pleasure, of other implements, such as they deemed best 
adapted to second their valour ; and accordingly, we find mention 

(6) MaUet, p. 128. (8) Plutarch. 

(7) Dalin, Hist I. 1. p. 8. 


made of javelins, slings, clubs stuck with sharp points/ lances, 
and a sort of poignard. In their defensive armour was no less 
variety; of which the buckler was the principal, and this was 
usually of wood, bark, or leather. That of the warrior of dis- 
tinction was of iron or copper, painted or embossed, often gilt, 
and sometimes they were plated even with gold or silver. And 
the shields were not only the principal instruments of defence in 
war, but served for various other purposes also ; they were used 
for carrying the dead to the grave, to terrify the enemy by clash- 
ing their swords or spears against them, to form occasionally 
coverings or a kind of tents, when they were encamped in -the 
field in bad weather. And in naval encounters they were of no 
less utihty ; for, if the fear of falling into the enemy's hands 
obliged any man to throw himself into the sea, he might save 
himself by floating upon his buckler.** Lastly, a rampart was 
made of the shields, by locking them firmly together, so as, on 
emergency, to form an impregnable barrier against the enemy's 
assaults. Sometimes too they were arranged into a sort of stage or 
platform, upheld on the heads of the soldiers, upon which the 
general standing, harangued his army on the open plain. This 
useful implement, serving for such a variety of purposes, was, at 
the end of the campaign on their return home, hung against the 
walls of their houses, as the most noble ornament, with which 
they could be decorated. 

The casque or helmet was made out of various materials, 
according to the rank of the wearer. That of the private was of 
leather generally ; that of the officer, of iron, and, if his means 
would allow, of gilt copper. The coat of mail and other parts 
less essential were worn by those only, who could procure them. 

They did not carry to great perfection the science of fortification, 
and attacking places of defence, in those rude times when war, 
as a science, was not understood. Their fortresses were castles, 
situated usually upon the summit of rocks, and strengthened by 
rudely built walls ; which, surrounding the fortress in an irregular 
fashion, were often called by a name that signifies a Serpent or 
Dragon. In these, ladies of distinction, especially those renowned 

(9) The two gigantic figures in the Guildhall of London, vulgarly called Gog and 
Magog, are doubtless represcntntionK of Scythian or Danish waniors. 

(10) llolberg's Danemark, c. Xll I. 


for extraordinary beauty, were not unfrequently immured for 
safety, in those lawless times, when so many desperadoes were 
wandering up and down, in quest of adventures.* It is needless 
to add, that it was this practice that gave occasion to the 
Romancists (who knew not how to describe common events in 
plain terms, but glossed over their stories with figment and fable) 
of imagining so many prodigies about princesses of transcendant 
beauty being guarded by fiirious and fiery dragons, and of young 
knights who could not succeed in rescuing them, imtil they had 
flung to the ground those terrible defenders. These rude forts 
were commonly taken by surprise, or after they had sustained a 
long blockade. If however, the fort was of great importance^ 
terraces were raised in the elevated part of the fort, whence the 
besiegers hurled arrows, stones, boiling water, melted pitch or 
lead, which the besieged were, on their part, not slow in returning. 
There is reason to suppose, that the use of catapultae and balistae, 
engines for discharging great stones and darts, was formerly 
known in the north; but probably they were rare and of rude 

How formidable soever were the ancient Danes and Norwegians 
to their neighbom:'s and distant nations by land, it must, notwith- 
standing, be confessed that the watery element was the true 
theatre of their glory. By their maritime expeditions they 
terrified and ravaged Europe; and of aU the northern swarms 
that covered the sea with their fleets, the Saxons were the most 
numerous and formidable. An author, who wrote in the fifth 
century,* gives a frightful picture of the inroads, descents, and 
devastations of this turbulent race. "The Saxon pirates have 
not only a knowledge of, but a familiarity with, the dangers of 
the sea ... an enemy more truculent than any enemy ; he 
attacks unexpectedly ; he escapes unobserved ; he despises those 
who oppose him, and lays prostrate those off their guard.** 
Just as is this character of the Saxons, it may, with far stronger 
reason, be applied to their Danish neighbours. 

But to the cruelty and tyranny of the Saxons, the Danes added 
a rigorous exaction of annual tribute, called Danegelt, but by the 
Saxons Heregeld, i. e. a miUtary and naval impost which was 

(1) DaUn, 1. I. c. 7. 20. (2) Idem. 

(3) Sidon. Apoll. lib. VIII, epist 6. 


begun to be collected about the reign of Ethelred, anno 990, as 
some writers suppose, ' ob pacandos Danos patriam inf estantes,' or 
according to others, for hiring Danish and other soldiers, or mari- 
ners, to oppose the incursions of foreign invaders. But we 
adhere to the opinion of Sir H. Spelman, who describes this tax 
to be " a tribute imposed on the English, sometimes for pacifying 
the Danes, sometimes for keeping them off the island," and a 
little after, *^ an annual tribute of 8000 pounds, was wrung out 
of the people." * It was originally an annual tax of two shiUings 
on every hide of land in the kingdom ; and was in its nature a 
land-tax, and the first of that kind, mentioned by our historians. 
But this, like many other imposts, retained its name, after it be- 
came appropriated to uses entirely different. Mr Tate reckons 
the number of hides in England * to have amounted to 246, 000 ; 
consequently, the gross income of the tax was £2i, 600 ; an 
estimate coinciding with that of Spelman, nearly ; if we take the 
pound weight Troy, usually valued at three pounds sterling. 
The Author of the "Dialogue on the Exchequer" makes the 
subjoined comment upon this odious and extortionate impost: 
'' Our island, content with its own riches and blessings, needs 
not those of the foreigner. This country, therefore, was justly 
called by our ancestors, 

Divitiisque sinum, deliciisque larem — 
The lap of riches, and the home of joys. 

On this account, it sustained innumerable injuries at the hands 
of foreigners ; for it is written, things valuable entice the thief. 
And so, pirates from the circumjacent coimtries made inroads 
upon and laid waste the maritime parts, carrying off gold, silver, 
and other valuables. But, when the king at the head of the 
natives prepared for a vigorous defence of the land, these intru- 
ders fled by sea. Among these, the principal and those more in- 
clined to do mischief were that warlike and populous nation, who, 
besides the avarice common to robbers, were more frequent and 
formidable in their attacks, because they made some claim, by an 
ancient right, to the sovereignty of the kingdom, as the History 
of the Britons more fully relates. Therefore, to keep off these 
enemies, it was enacted by the English kings, that for every hide 

(4) Spelman 'b Glossary, p. 181. 

(5) Camden's Brit. 1. 226; and Spelman 's Gloss., p. 292. 


of land two shillings be paid as a perpetual tax, for the service 
of warlike men, who were to guard the sea^coasts and be a check 
on the enemy's attacks." 

6. The extravagant love of war among the ancient Scandina- 
vians, is the prominent feature in their character. Their preju- 
dices, customs, daily occupations, and amusements, in short, the 
whole tenor of their life, took a colom-ing and bias from this 
passion. The greater part of their existence was spent in the 
camp, or on board the fleet, in actual warfare, or in preparation 
for it They had constantly reviews, sham fights which often 
proved serious encounters, and other miUtary diversions ; and, 
even when forced to hve in peace, the representations of war were 
their livehest entertainment ; while hunting, the discussion of pub- 
Uc affairs, drinking and sleeping, and the pleasures of the table 
occupied the rest of their time." The bravest and the most active 
consigned the care of the house and family to women, old men, 
or the infirm. '^The same people, by a strange contradiction, 
cannot hve in inactivity, and yet love idleness." ' 

Like the modern English, they had the highest zest for the 
festive board. Among them was no public assembly, no civil or 
religious festival, no birth-day, marriage, or funeral duly solem- 
nized, no friendship or alliance was properly cemented, in which 
feasting did not form the chief part." The plentiful tables of the 
grandees were the wages of their dependents. A great lord could 
not more effectually succeed in drawing around him a great num- 
ber of followers, than by giving magnificent and frequent repasts. 
At table they deliberated upon political matters, on war, peace, &c. 
and on the following day, reviewed what had been concluded 
upon the previous evening, thinking that a proper season for tak- 
ing a man's opinion, when his heart, cheered and laid open by the 
copious and generous bowl, is free from disguise and dissimula- 
tion, and for taking his resolution, when he is cool and sober. 
At those carousals beer or mead was the usual beverage, or wine, 
when they could procure it. These were drunk from earthem 
or wooden pitchers, or from the horns of wild bulls, with which 

(6) Quotiens bella non ineunt, multum venatibus, plus per otium transigunt, dediti somno 
ciboque. Tacit. Germ. c. 15. 

(7) Id. c. 2. (8) Pelloutier, I. b. 2, c. 12. 


their forests abounded. And, as the guests drank one after the 
other, he who was the first to drink, said, / drink before you, and 
I wish this draught may do you as much good as myself; whereby 
he gave a kind of assurance, that he had infused neither poisons 
nor sorcery into the cup. Hence arose the custom of drinking 
to the health of the guests ; as well as that of drinking to the 
memory of the departed ; which is evidently a relic of the Celtic 
superstition of drinking to the manes of kings, heroes, and 

Though the minds of these rough warriors were engrossed by 
the pursuit of arms and the pleasures of the table, they were yet 
especially susceptible of the tender passion, which is the strongest 
of ties, and the greatest charm of society. But in this particular 
as in many others, the Northmen of Europe were differently 
affected to the Southerns and Asiatics. The latter seem to have 
for the sex much sensual passion, but little esteem ; among the 
former, on the contrary, they were less regarded as the means of 
sensual gratification, than as companions and equals, whose regard 
as well as favours could be procured only by attention, generous 
conduct, and a display of courage : an inference that these rude 
warriors had a high sense of honour and regard for female virtue. 
He who had played his part well in the field of Mars, had com- 
monly the same success in the court of Venus. It was for his 
mistress, no less than for his king and country, that the youthful 
warrior fought. Patriotism led him to the field ; but love nerved 
his arm. This spirit of chivalry was diffused through Europe, 
engendering that moderation and generosity of the stronger to- 
wards the weaker sex, which is to this day one of the chief 
characteristics of modem manners, so little known among ancient 
nations. So great was the respect of the Germans, according 
to Tacitus,' ° for women, that they admitted them to their councils ; 
being of opinion that there is in the sex a certain forecast, almost 
prophetic ; and so they were careful of disregarding their coun- 
sels, or neglecting their answers.* And the same sentiments pre- 
vailed among the Scandinavians generally. The husbands were 

(9) Heroum, regum, amicorum, et in bello fortiter gerentium, memorial es scyphos exhau- 
riebant, quibua eonim manibus parentare se credebant. Wormius apud Bartholin, p. 127. 

(10) Germ. c. 8. 

(1) See Keysler's Dissertation, De mulieribus fatidicis veterum Celtarum, gentiumque 
Septentrionalium . 


almost inseparable from the wives ; taking them in their company 
on the most distant expeditions, listening to the female monitions 
with respect, and, in defeat, fearing their reproaches as much as 
the blows of the enemy. 

But this ascendancy of woman is easily explicable. Knowledge 
is power ; the men, being mostly employed in war or the chace, 
left to their partners or daughters, the more leisurely task of 
acquiring divers branches of useful knowledge. These acquirements 
caused them to be regarded by the males as oracles in civil or 
domestic matters. It was the female alone, that studied the 
properties of simples, and the art of healing wounds ;' an art as 
mysterious in those days, as the want of it was frequent 

There was also another consideration, which mutually bound 
the sexes by stronger ties of esteem and affection. In an age 
when piracies and a thirst for dangers and adventures, exposed 
weakness to unforeseen insults and attacks, the women had often 
occasion for deliverance from captivity, and always for defenders. 
And all know, that nothing is so likely to win the affections of a 
timid female, as her conviction that her lover is able and willing 
to protect her. Therefore, every young warrior, who was greedy 
of glory, and had a heart to dispose of, would fly to the rescue, 
would encounter every danger by flood and field, with the pros- 
pect of so just and sweet a reward, as the hand and heart of his 
beloved. Besides, our admiration and esteem for any object, is 
always redoubled, when it has cost us great exertions. How 
honourable and happy must alliances have been in a society thus 
constituted ! And emulation would quickly multiply the number 
of such gallant cavaliers ; chivalry became the mode ; and woman 
was looked upon as little inferior to a divinity. 

But, as young men, at least those of condition, could not arrive 
at honourable marriages, but through the road of honour and 
glory, we infer, that they did seldom marry at an early age. 
Caesar says of the Germans — ^and what is said of this nation^ is we 
repeat equally applicable to those dwelling to the north of them, 
— *' that the longer the men continue in celibacy, the more they 
are esteemed ;" and Tacitus, that " the Germans retain their vigour 

(2) Scire potestates herbaruni) usumque medendi. Virgil, ^n. 12, 396. 


longer by deferring their union with the other sex.** But polygamy 
prevailed among the Danes^ even after their conversion to Christ- 
ianity ;• it was not uncommon for them to espouse two wives, and 
often more. Rich and powerful men considered a plurality of 
wives as a mark of grandeur ; a vice this, which Christianity, not 
without great difficulty, triumphed over, but not till the end of 
the tenth century. The children had an equal right of succession ; 
and the title of bastard was applied to those only, bom without 
any sort of marriage. Nevertheless, one of the wives, generally 
the most beloved, enjoyed a certain pre-eminence, being regard- 
ed as the most legitimate; and her prerogative consisted in 
following her deceased husband to the tomb or funeral pile, to be 
there interred or burnt with him, — a prerogative which would 
not make her an object of envy or jealousy to the ladies of our 
own age ! But their fidelity and chastity were ever in repute ; 
Tacitus affirms, * that adulteries were very rare among the 
Germans ; and this crime was punished with the utmost severity. 
Marriages were, therefore, commonly fruitful among them ; but 
awful is the fact, that the rich, no less than the poor, scrupled not 
to expose to death such of their children, as they had no mind to 
rear. This barbarous custom was not uncommon among the 
Greeks and Romans also, long before they enjoyed prosperity, 
luxury, and the arts. So true is it, that ignorance is no security 
against vice, and men always know enough to conceive crimes. 

It is no less remarkable, on the other hand, that, long before 
the light of Christianity penetrated the dark North, a sort of 
Baptism was there celebrated. Snorro Sturleson the chronicler, 
speaking of a Norwegian nobleman,* who lived under Harald 
Harfagre, affirms, that he poured water upon the head of a new- 
bom infant, and called him Haguin after the father's name. It is 
probable, that the object of this ceremony was, to counteract the 
effects of conjuration and witchcraft, which evil spirits were 
supposed to employ at the moment of birth. • The Livonians, as 
well as the Germans, observed a similar rite, as we leam from the 
Letter of the celebrated pontiff Gregory the third to the apostle 
Boniface (Epist 122.), wherein he directs him how to act in this 

(3) MaUet (4) Germ. c. 19. 

(5) Hutoria Regum Septentrionalium ante saecula, &c. 70. 

(6) Mallet. 

EMayi 40 


particular. And another author of note, in a learned comment 
upon the subject of Baptism among the heathens, tells us that 
the rite certainly existed before the introduction of Christianity, 
and that Pilate's washing his hands before the multitude, was a 
kind of exemplification of it. 

We have already touched upon the education of the Scandina- 
vian youth, of their hardihood, and the hardships to which they 
were inured. But we must not omit to speak, of the great 
advantage they gained from it, I mean, an iron constitution, 
vigorous health, and matchless strength of body. Both Greek and 
Latin writers have never spoken but with astonishment of the 
great size and proportionate muscular powers of the Northmen. 
Caesar has a similar remark upon the Suevi, a warUke nation 
dwelling between the Elbe and the Vistula : he says that they 
feed on milk, that they himt much, and from the earliest age they 
do nothing against their will; and are therefore so robust 
and enormous in stature : a wise people ! who practised none of 
that restraint and compulsion, with us miscalled discipline, so 
prejudicial to both mind and body. And Vegetius, who wrote on 
military tactics, says positively, that the tallness of the Grermans 
gave them a great advantage over the diminutive stature of the 
Romans. Their lances, swords, and other arms, which have been 
preserved from those ages, are objects of curiosity and astonish- 
ment to mankind in these degenerate times. It is doubtless this 
uncommon strength and stature of the human race in former 
ages, that have given rise and credit to rumours so common in 
all countries, that giants were the first inhabitants of the eardu 
The cold, formerly in Europe much more rigorous than now-ar 
days, continual bodily exercise, the continence of the men, and 
their late marriages, their simple diet, and especially their freedom 
from mental application (than which nothing so much obstructs 
muscular development) were the principal causes of these surpiis- 
ing instances of animal growth. 

Among the Scandinavians the marriage ceremony was simple, 
and consisted chiefly in feasting.^ The suitor, after having 
obtained the consent of the parents or guardian of the damsel, as 
well as her own, fixed the wedding-day, assembled his relations 

(7) Dalin, Hist. I, c. 9. 


and friends, and sent some of the latter, to receive the dower and 
the bride, m his name, from the hands of her father. The friends 
were answerable for what was entrusted to them, and if they 
abused that trust the law condemned them to make amends in a 
sum threefold greater than was awarded for a murder. The 
damsel's father or guardian followed her into the husband's house, 
and giving her into his hands, usually addressed to him these 
words : ' I give you this damsel in honorable matrimony, to share 
your bed, to have the keeping of the keys of the house, and a 
third of whatever money you possess or shall possess, and to 
enjoy other rights determined by the law.' After this the newly 
married pair sat at table with the guests, who drank to their 
health, and to their gods and heroes. Then, the friends of the 
bride raised and carried her on their shoulders, a custom among 
the Goths used as a mark of esteem, and still not wholly obsolete 
in our own coimtry. The bride was conducted to the nuptial 
couch by her father ; and before her was borne a number of 
flambeaux, — an usage common also among the Greeks and 
Romans, and which is not yet abohshed in some countries of the 
north. The marriage, after this, was deemed consummated ; the 
husband subsequently made divers presents to the wife, as a pair 
of oxen for the plough, a horse with fine trappings, together with 
a lance and sword. • And however inappropriate such gifts may 
appear, they were not without their meaning. *' It was (says 
Tacitus) to intimate that she was not to lead a luxurious and idle 
life, but was called upon to be a partaker of her husband's 
labours, to be the companion of his dangers whether in peace or 
war. The wives also, on their part, gave armour. These mutual 
tokens were the conjugal bond, the mystic rites, their hymeneals." • 
The armour, if the husband had made a right use of it, was 
religiously preserved, given with the portions of their daugh- 
ters, and transmitted as heir-looms to their posterity. Finally, 
after some days spent in feasts and diversions, the guests made 
presents of some cattle to the young pair, to commence house- 
keeping ; and returned to their homes. 

It was to the extraordinary vigour of their constitution, that the 
Scandinavians owed that healthy and extreme old age, which 

(8) Mallet's Introd. pp. 207, 8. 

(9) Hoc maximum vinculum, hsc arcana sacra, hos conjugates deos arbitrantur. Tac. 
Germ. c. 18. 


many of them enjoyed. Yet this advantage they regarded only 
with indifference, or even with disdain, upon which men generally 
set so high a value, especially since the invention of so many arts 
and pleasures to render life more desirable. For few of the 
northern people awaited that term which nature had allotted 
them ; deeming old age inglorious, they courted death by single 
combats, general wars, the dangers and fatigues of the sea, and 
even by suicide so frequent among them ; they were eager to quit 
the world, and to enter upon that glorious route, which alone led 
to a happy futurity. The influence which this strange persuasion 
had on them, cannot be more plainly seen, than in the last scenes 
of their lives, and in their funeral ceremonies. 

In the more ancient times these were simple. The Scandina- 
vians, before the arrival of Odin among them, were content with 
depositing the body of the defunct under a heap of earth or 
stones, together with his arms. But this prince introduced into 
the North new customs, and attended with some magnificence. 

In the ages which followed his settlement in Denmark, funeral 
piles were customary, as was before said, on which the body of the 
dead was reduced to ashes. These being collected in an urn 
were buried under an artificial hillock. But this usage was never 
absolutely universal, and the former was introduced anew, five or 
six centuries after, as far as can be conjectured. However, in 
every age, when princes or heroes had perished gloriously in 
battle, all possible magnificence was put in requisition, to pay to 
their shades the last offices, in a manner worthy of his rank and 
merits. On the pile was placed whatever he had held most dear 
in hfe, his arms, gold, silver, war-horse, and domestics. Even his 
dependants and friends thought it an honour and a duty to die 
with him, and accompany him to Odin's Hall. For nothing ap- 
peared to these warriors more glorious, than to enter their 
sensual Paradise, with a numerous cortege of slaves, friends, 
horses, accoutred in the finest armoiur, and clad in the richest 
robes. For Odin himself had assured them, that whatever had 
been burnt or interred with the dead, would accompany them to 
the Walhalla or Region of the Blest. And even the poorest, under 
this persuasion, carried with them, at least, their most necessary 

(10) Mallet p. 212. 


utensils and some money, in order not to be wholly unprovided 
in the other world. It was from a motive somewhat similar, that 
the Greeks and Romans put a piece of money into the mouth of 
the deceased, that he might have wherewith to pay his passage- 
money over the river Styx. And the Laplanders now inter with 
the departed a flint and steel and other apparatus, to light them 
along that dark road, which leads to the region of spirits. 

Now, if pohshed nations have many observances wherein they 
differ but little from a rude people, it is especially in those which 
relate to reUgion, death, and their future destiny. Men cannot 
contemplate this awful subject coolly, and without falling into 
such hopes and fears, doubts, and desires, as leave to them scarcely 
the use of their reason. Accordingly, whatever Egypt, Greece, 
or Rome, — ^peoples otherwise so sage — ^taught upon this mysteri- 
ous future, was it not a continual delirium, a day-dream, mere ro- 
mancing, and old wives' tales — which will appear no whit better 
than the fables of the Celts and Scandinavians, if indeed it was 
not more indecent, revolting, and extravagant ? 

Whatever riches were interred with the dead, were said to be 
under the especial guardianship of Odin, who forbade any trespass- 
es of profane avarice upon the sacred tomb : such depositories 
were held in the highest sanctity, therefore, and remained invio- 
late. In the north of Germany such tombs have been frequently 
discovered, containing arms, spiu^, rings, and vases of much value. 
Mallet records an instance of a grave opened at Guben * in Lusa- 
tia ; which, as may be inferred from its contents, inclosed the re- 
mains of one, who had been a great lover of good cheer : for he had 
been careful to carry with him to Odin's banqueting-room 
various utensils of cookery, with flagons and drinking cups of 
much cost and beauty : " In pago, imo milliari a Gubena distante, 
universus apparatus culinarius erutus est, cacabi, ollse, catini, 
phialae, patinse, urceoli, lagenulae, &c." No doubt, this gourmand 
and votary of Bacchus was resolved to make his entree into the 
unknown region with the highest mirth an(i jollity, and to have a 
jovial feast with Odin and his boon companions; being of the 
same opinion as the Platonists of old, to whom were perpetuated 
after death, those luxuries and pleasures, which formed the 

(1) Vide Keysler, antiq. select, p. 173. 


summum bonum of their happiness^ while living : according to the 
words of the poet : 

Quse gratia currDum 
Armorumque fuit vivis, quae cura nitentes 
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos. 

ViBo. ^N. VI. 653—5. 

7. A people, who neglect the refined and agreeable arts, will 
cultivate but indifferently the necessary ones. The Scandinavi- 
ans held both the one and the other in equal contempt. War 
absorbed every other pursuit. So long as this passion was in full 
force, whole tribes wandering from forest to forest, and subsisting, 
like the Scythians, upon the flocks they carried with them, scarcely 
thought of tillage ; indeed, they disdained such drudgery. But 
this prejudice gradually wore out, probably from necessity. For 
Christianity having at length triumphed over their fondness for 
piracy, and restored to Denmark a part of its inhabitants^ they 
were compelled to continue at home, and to draw their subsistence 
from the soil, especially as other fruits were so rare among them, 
and the consumption of grain was so large both for food and 
beverage. But the same necessity did not reconcile them to the 
other arts, which were still looked upon as degrading occupations, 
fitting for slaves only. Gauls, Germans, and Scandinavians em- 
ployed none but slaves, freedmen, women, and old men in 
handcraft trades, works of drudgery, and domestic service. Thus, 
they knew but httle of what contributes to luxury and reflnement, 
the mechanic arts being in the hands of the lower ranks of society. 
Gross and sensual, and priding themselves on their animal powers 
alone, they exerted these, to the neglect of the mental; as 
indolent in peace, as they were active in war. The women spun 
the wool, of which part of their garments were made, and skins 
and furs suppUed the rest." These habits fitted tight to the body 
and were short and neat, like those of the Gothic nations. In 
this attire are discernible the rudiments of the modem European 
costume. It consisted of a kind of waistcoat and breeches or 
rather trowsers, which came down to the feet and tied at the 
ankles, like the nether garment of the Cossacks of the Don. Upon 
the pillars of Trajan and Antonine, the dresses of such nations as 

(3) Bardon, sur les costumes dcs anciens Peuples. 


were of Gothic origin, bear a strong resemblance to those of our 

In their mode of lodging, the natives of the northern peninsula 
had still more of rudeness. Having httle of comforts and even 
conveniences, of ornaments they were entirely devoid, except 
such as they gained by piracy or on foreign service. In the 
primitive times, like all semi-barbarians, they dwelt in scattered 
huts, roofed with the skins of wild beasts or the bark of trees. 
But, when religion taught them to erect temples to the gods, the 
concourse of people who came to offer prayers and sacrifices, 
induced them to build round about these holy places, for conve- 
nience and protection; and thus towns insensibly arose. The 
same took place, and for the same causes, in the environs of the 
castles of kings and great lords ; as in the rest of Europe, in the 
feudal times, a strong baronial fortress or a monastery formed the 
nucleus of a town or village. The houses, of which the towns of 
the Danes were composed, were, for the most part, mere cottages 
supported by thick clumsy, mis-shapen posts, joined by boards and 
covered with turf, the light being admitted from the top ; for the 
use of windows was then unknown. The lowest ranks were lodged 
not even so well ; wretched cabins, ditches, or clefts of rocks, 
served as retreats in the rigour of winter. There couched on the 
bare ground, and half covered with skins tacked over their shoul- 
ders with thorns, they passed days in a kind of stupor, till their 
ferocious and rude youth, aroused by some call of war, started 
forth from their holes and caverns, to conquer a nation of con- 
quering warriors, to fire the palaces of Rome, and to tread under 
foot so many fair monuments of luxury, arts, and industry* 

But it was only the masses, or the dregs, of the people, that 
lived in such absolute ignorance of all the conveniences of domes- 
ticity ; between them and the grandees was as great a contrast, as 
between the denizens of England's luxurious metropolis, and the 
wild cottiers of Connemara, nesthng in their mud-built cabins. 
For, the Grandees distinguished themselves, at an early age, by 
their sumptuous edifices.' They prided themselves upon having 
them of very spacious dimensions, and adorned with elevated 
towers. A Danish writer * assures us, that the most wealthy of 

(3) Mallet, p. 219. (4) Anagrim Crymag. p. 57. 


those Norwegian lords^ who settled in Iceland, erected mansions 
of extraordinary extent. The palace of Ingolph was 135 feet in 
length, and others were not inferior to this in magnitude ; but it 
is probable, it was only a sort of inclosure for the accommodation 
of slaves and cattle. The most valuable ornaments of these 
palaces were the cielings, on which were carved some memora- 
ble exploits of the master of the house or of his ancestors. And 
the mountaineers of Norway and Sweden have, to this day, re- 
markable dexterity in the art of sculpture. But the Northern 
adventurers, who settled in richer coimtries, soon adopted the 
luxury of their new fellow-citizens, and emulated them m the 
erection of costly and tasteful buildings. 

But, though this people inhabited a peninsula, abounding with 
convenient harbours, and were consequently skilled in navigation, 
their conunerce appears to have been at a low ebb. Piracy was 
the end of their naval expeditions. Enterprise, excitement^ 
and disdain of acquiring, by slow and honest industry, what could 
be won instantly by the sword, was a constant check upon com- 
mercial pursuits in their own, as well as in other regions subject to 
their visitations ; which making property insecure, rendered indus- 
try unavailing. But whatever mercantile dealings these military 
nations may have had, were confined to commerce, or the 
exchange of commodities ; for money was not coined in the three 
kingdoms of the north before the tenth century ; and there is 
reason to believe it was Canute the Great, who first carried ovw 
English workmen into Denmark, and that they struck those small 
tokens of copper, of which some are still extant, and which bear 
generally the impress of a cross, sun, or star, without any lettered 
inscription ; others, however, bear letters on both sides on the 
extreme circle. Of the latter a specimen may be seen in Speed's 
History of England. With regard to the pieces of coin, which 
have been occasionally found in those countries, these are 
doubtless the remnant of booty, which these plunderers amassed 
in their predatory excursions. 

From their skill in navigation the Danes must have been very 
studious of astronomy ; for a science so indispensable to this art| 
before the invention of the compass, was nmnbered among the 
accomplishments of youth. Thus, in ancient Chronicles it was 
common to find young warriors vaunting to their unkind mis- 


tresses, that they could play at chess, skate gracefully on the ice, 
swim, make verses, and number the stars.* In the history of 
Charles and Grymer, Swedish kings, the gallant Grymer is thus 
described as an all-accomplished warrior : " He was early distin- 
guished in arms ; he knew how to dye the sword in the blood of 
his enemies, to run over craggy mountains, to wrestle, play at 
chess, trace the motions of the stars, and to throw far from him 
heavy weights. By the time he was twelve years old, no one 
could contend with him either with the sword, the bow, or in 
wrestling. He frequently showed his skill in the chambers of the 
damsels, before the king's lovely daughter. Desirous of acquiring 
her regard, he displayed his dexterity in handling his weapons, 
and his skill in sciences. At length, he ventured to make this 
demand : Wilt thou, O fair princess, if I can obtain the king's 
consent, accept me for a husband ? To which she prudently re- 
phed, I must not make that choice myself, but go thou and offer 
the same proposal to my father." 

For the study of astronomy the clear sky, that glows for the 
greater part of the year, is very favourable ; and had the Northmen 
been, like the Babylonians, an inland people, they would like these, 
have turned their minds upwards to the contemplation of the 
glories of the heavenly host. This science, too, appears to have 
been all their own, and that they borrowed nothing from the 
older nations of Asia, is probable from the names greatly different, 
but equally fantastical, which they gave to the constellations. Thus, 
the greater Bear was denominated the great Dog ; the lesser Bear, 
Charles's Wain ; the three stars in Orion's belt, Friga's Distaff ; 
Cygnus or the Swan, the milky way, the road of winter; &c. 
But whether they used the knowledge of the stars, only to guide 
them over the seas, without attempting to read their destinies in 
them, — whether they debased the noble science of astronomy by 
the delusions of judicial astrology, — ^is questionable; although 
they pried into futurity with no less ardour and curiosity, and by 
means no less silly. However, this may be advanced with cer- 
tainty, that these maritime nations were very exact in regulating 
the times and seasons, whether it was that religion prescribing 
certain periodical sacrifices and ceremonies, rendered such regu- 
lations necessary, or whether it was from the taste which they 


(5) Northern Antiq. II. p. 249. 



had for the science of numbers. And it is singular, that they 
counted the unities up to twelve, instead of ten ; and this mode 
is preferable to oiu^ ; twelve being a more perfect number, we 
mean, more easily divisible.* But in their division of the year 
into quarters, months, weeks, days, and hours, they followed the 
same custom, as the rest of Europe ; with the slight exception, 
that in their computations they used the word, night, instead of 
day;' the former being deemed antecedent to the latter; as 
among the Hebrews : " the evening and the morning were the 
first day." • And a relic of this fashion, derived to us from the 
Saxons, still lingers in England in the phrases of Se'ennight, 

That the Scandinavians, till long after the Christian era, were 
unacquainted with alphabetic writing, is confirmed by two repu- 
table authors, iElian and Tacitus. The former says that ** neither 
the Thracians nor the other barbarians established in Europe are 
acquainted with letters, and that they look upon the use of this 
art as dishonourable, whereas the use of it is known to the barba- 
rians of Asia;"* the latter historian, that "the men and women 
are equally ignorant of the use of letters." *• But at length their 
use became conunon in the north, in the latter ages of Paganism ;' 
we find kings, celebrated captains, and in general all persons 
educated with care, writing letters, epitaphs, and inscriptions. 
The common materials, upon which they wrote, were wood, the 
bark of the birch-tree, or skins ; the two former being applied to 
the hke purpose by the Romans in the infancy of their repubhc, 
as the words Liber and Codex intimate ; and Horace expressly 
says that ancient laws were carved on wood : 

Leges incidere hgno. 

Mallet assures us, * " there are still extant some Rimic epistles, 
and even love-letters, written on pieces of board or bark. Ren- 
heilm, a learned Swede, in his notes on the Icelandish Chronicle, 
entitled Torstein's Wig Saga, cites an ancient billet-doux, contain- 

(6) Dalin, Hist. I. p. 245. 

(7) Non dierum, ut nos, sed noctium numerum computant. Tacitus. 

(8) Genesis, c. I. 

(9) Hist VIII. 6. (10) Litterarum secreta viri pariter ac foemins 
ignorant. Germ. c. 19. Consult also Pelloutier 1. c.lO. 

(1) Verel. Runograph. p. 21. (2) p. 235. 


ing these affecting words : ' I would rather, young maiden, repose 
on thy bosom, than possess the riches of the three Indies." And, 
as for those books in the Runic language, they were composed in 
those times when Christianity began to be prevalent in the north, 
as may be easily determined by many proofs, and especially, be- 
cause Romish characters are found intermixed with the Runic." 
Thus far Mallet. The term. Runic, it is scarcely necessary to 
add, is applied to the language and letters of the ancient Goths, 
Danes, and other Northern nations. 

After what has been said of the character and manners of the 
Scandinavians, we cannot form a very high opinion of the beauty 
and harmony of their language. As men invent words, as they 
acquire ideas — for words are but an embodiment of ideas,— it must 
have been rude and barren, wholly unfitted to express subtle and 
abstruse notions. But the people, who spoke it, being free and 
independent, warhke and empassioned, could not fail of imparting 
a similar spirit to their language. And in such a tongue there 
are always admirable points ; for such a people, speaking without 
disguise or restraint, will express themselves with simplicity, 
freedom, and animation : their words come from the heart ; and 
have energetic brevity, lively turns, and sincere sentiments, to 
which refined and polite people are little accustomed, from the 
constraints of education, the fear of ridicule, or of giving offence ; 
in the one, their sentiments are the dictates of nature ; in the 
other, of art ; in the one, all is spoken that is felt ; in the other 
more is concealed, than is spoken. Speech has been bestowed by 
the Creator as the interpreter of our thoughts ; but by man it is 
too often perverted for hiding them. 

It is beyond all dispute, that the people of Europe, from the 
farthest east even to the extremity of Spain, formerly spoke the 
same language, if we except the Sarmatians, that is, the ancestors 
of the Russians and Poles, who from the earliest times have had 
a tongue entirely their own ; the Greeks, who borrowed many 
terms from the Orientals and Egyptians ; and the Romans, who 
borrowed, in part, the language of the Greeks. And the Scythian 
or Celtic language, the parent of that spoken in the Northern 
peninsula, was preserved entire, in those countries only, of which 
the Romans never became masters ; but even in those, which they 
occupied a long time, we find sensible traces of that general 


European language. The Spanish and French are still full of 
words, derived from the Gothic or Teutonic ; some of these the 
Romans could not put out of use ; others there are, and in far 
greater number, which the immigrations of the Northmen have im- 
ported and brought into vogue. But this language, so general, 
would, of course, be split, having so wide a range, into various dia- 
lects, and imperceptibly changed in the same country ; and such is 
the inevitable lot of aU languages. We however recognize, in its 
niunerous branches, divers traits still subsisting of their former com- 
mon origin. The Teutonic or Gothic has a great similarity to the 
Bas-Breton, or the Welsh, and some, with the Irish. It is still 
spoken without many alterations in Iceland, and in the more 
distant provinces of Sweden ; the Danish, the Norwegian, the 
Swedish, are evidently only the same language, and have a very 
great affinity with the German, especially with that spoken in 
Lower Germany.' 

Rude and poor, however, as the language of the North was 
originally, it soon acquired a polish and an elevation from the 
general taste of the natives for poetry. A few specimens of their 
skill in this art have been transmitted to us, and translated into 
our language ; one of which we propose to append to the present 

Mankind being every where the same in their ruder and infant 
state, every where were led to make verses, long before they 
thought of writing in prose. This seems to us a reversal of the 
natural order ; but it is because we do not place ourselves in the 
situation of a nation, who are ignorant of the art of writing, or 
whose prejudices hinder them from making use of it. So situsUed, 
they could have recoiu^e to memory alone ; memory was the sole 
medium of recording events ; and the best assistant to memory is 
poetry. With what just reason, then, did the ancient Greeks 
represent the Muses as the daughters of Jupiter and Memory ! 
Harmony strikes every ear ; but song could not long subsist without 
Poetry ; which was soon deemed an almost divine art, and em- 
ployed for the noblest purposes, for the commemoration of remark- 
able events and great actions. Laws, religious rites, rural labours 

(3) For this paragraph, touching upon the languages of Europe, we are whoUy indebted 
to M. Mallet : See his '* Introduction to the History of Denmark, p. 236, 7. 


(in the primitive ages an honourable occupation) were promulged 
and recorded in numbers, as well as the praises of the Gods, of 
kings, and heroes. And since it requires a peculiar and uncommon 
talent to become a poet, those, so gifted, must have been very con- 
siderable and esteemed personages. Thus, all historic monuments 
of the North bear testimony to the honours which were paid to them 
by king and people ; and we believe, that no coimtry can be pointed 
out, which has been so favourable to the poetic art, nor any age so 
glorious for it, as that of the Scalds in the courts of Northern 
Princes. In the chronicles of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, 
we read that their kings were accompanied by one or more of 
these Scalds, or Bards. * They were especially honoured at the 
courts of Princes, who desired to immortalize their actions. 
Haguin, king of Norway, had in his train five celebrated poets, 
on that famous day, when the Julines were defeated by him ; and 
history remarks, that they each sang a hymn to inflame the soldiers' 
coiu^age, before they went into action. But, besides that they were 
highly esteemed, and sat on the same benches in the public 
festivals with the superior officers of the court, they enjoyed another 
advantage, which would be more envied by the poets of our day ; 
the poems, which they composed in honour of kings and heroes, 
earned for them munificent presents. Seldom did a Scald sing 
his verses in the monarch's presence, without receiving on the spot 
golden rings, brilliant arms, or robes of great value. The great 
regard held for them, often went so far, as to procure for them 
the remission of crimes they had committed, on condition that 
they solicited pardon in verse. 

In fine. Poetry was so honoured, that the greater part of the 
Scalds were men of illustrious birth, and Princes and even kings 
applied seriously to this art. Rognvald, count of the Orkneys, • 
passed for a very able poet ; and in a song still preserved he boasts 
that he could make verses on all sorts of subjects. Regner 
Lodbrog — a specimen of whose compositions is given in the 
sequel literally translated — was no less a good poet, than a great 
warrior and navigator. It was not, however, on nobleness of birth, 
without other merit, that respect for poets was founded. A people, 
who did every thing for glory, was never wanting in respect to 

(4) Torfaeus, Hist Norweg. II. p. 21. 

(5) Woimius, Litter. Ruoic. p. 195. 


the talents of one, who spread and perpetuated it, to whatever 
rank he belonged. A Prince or illustrious warrior did not often 
expose his life with so much intrepidity, unless he was likely to 
be lauded by his Scald, who was a witness and rewarder of his 
bravery, A celebrated Norwegian King placed the bards around 
his person in the day of battle, proudly telling them, that they were 
to relate not what they heard, but what they saw.* 

These same personages, also, sang their verses at solemn festi- 
vals to the sound of the flute or harp. But the subject of these 
effusions was not always a single event, as a victory, or other noble 
actions ; it was sometimes a genealogical history of all the kings of 
the country, down to the reigning Prince, who was always, with 
dexterous flattery, sure to derive his descent from them, and 
generally from Thor or Woden ; for no people gloried more in 
the pride of ancestry, than the Scandinavian monarchs. 

The style of these antique poems was highly figurative, some^ 
times enigmatical, very remote from ordinary language, and for 
this reason, grand, but pompous ; sublime, but wild ; extravagant, 
and not seldom obscure. Grandiloquent and sonorous diction 
was more suited and acceptable to a convivial or festive assembly, 
than pure and lucid eloquence. If it be the characteristic of 
poetry to have nothing in common vrith prose, except the words, 
if every thing should be expressed in imagery, figures, hyperboles, 
similes, and all the machinery of the poetic art, — the Scandinavian 
bards may claim the upper seats in the Temple of the Muses. 
But true poetry is the language of nature, always simple ; what- 
soever, therefore, is artificial and overstrained, is contrary to its 
spirit. A fairer specimen of genuine poetry cannot be found in 
the whole compass of language, combining at once simplicity and 
sublimity, with chaste imagery, than the song of Moses, in the 
15th Chapter of Exodus. In short, the Scriptures, independently 
of their divine origin, contain more sublimity, purer morality, 
more important history, and finer strains of eloquence and poetry, 
than can be collected from any book in any language. 

We have said that the style of the Runic bards was affected, 
their language extravagant, their metaphors unnaturaL Thus, 8 
poet seldom expressed the heavens by any other circumlocution, 

(6) Mallet, p. 242. 


than ' the skull of the giant Ymer/ one of their demigods ; the 
rain-bow was called * the bridge of the Gods' ; gold was turned 
into * the tears of Friga' ; poetry, ' the present or drink of Odin* ; 
the earth was indifferently styled ' the spouse of Odin, or the flesh 
of Ymer/ or ' the vessel which floats for ages' ; herbs and plants 
were called the * hair or fleece of the earth* ; the horizon was no- 
thing less ' than the hoop of the world ' ; with other puerilities. 
Other figurative expressions were just and chaste, breathing the 
spirit of the Muse ; as, when they describe the stars to be the 
poetry of heaven, and the flowers, the stars of the earth ; 
the warrior's sword to flash hke lightning, and the rush of the 
army, as a mountain-torrent, and the shouting of the hosts as 
reaching up to heaven ; their eyes in the combat to blaze with fire, 
and the battle-field to be as a bath of blood, and the blows 
of the combatants like thunderbolts. The lover while praising 
his mistress, whose bosom is white as alabaster, yet deplores that 
her heart is cold as ice. A ship was described as the horse of the 
waves, and the tongue as the sword of words, and the vehicle of 
thought, &c. 

We may conclude this division of our subject, by transcribing 
the summary reflections of our modem Tacitus "^ upon the pohtical 
state of the Northern nations, when they became formidable to 
the rest of Europe, by their invasions and piracies : 

*' During several generations, Denmark and Scandinavia con- 
tinued to send forth innumerable pirates distinguished by strength, 
by valour, merciless ferocity, and hatred of the Christian name. 
No country suffered so much from these invaders, as England. 
Her coasts lay near to the ports whence they sailed, nor was any 
part of our island so far distant from the seas, as to be secure from 
attack. The same atrocities which had attended the victorious 
Saxon over the Celt, were now, after a lapse of ages, suffered by 
the Saxon at the hand of the Dane. Civilisation, just as it began 
to rise, was met by this blow, and sunk down once more. Large 
colonies of adventurers from the Baltic established themselves on 
the Eastern shores, spread gradually westward, and supported by 
constant re-inforcements from beyond the sea, aspired to the do- 
minion of the whole realm. The struggle between the two fierce 
Teutonic breeds lasted during six generations. Each was alternately 

(7) B. Macaulay'a Hist, of England, I, p. 10. 


paramount. Cruel massacres, followed by cruel retribution, pro- 
vinces wasted, convents plundered, and cities razed to the ground 
make up the greater part of the history of those evil days. At 
length, the North ceased to pour forth a constant stream of fresh 
depredators, and from that time mutual aversion of races began to 
subside. Inter-marriage became frequent The Danes learned 
the religion of the Saxons; and thus one cause of deadly ani- 
mosity was removed. The Danish and Saxon tongues, both dia- 
lects of one wide-spread language, were blended together. But 
the distinction between the two nations was by no means effaced, 
when an event took place which prostrated both in common 
slavery at the feet of a third people, under William the Norman.''^ 

* The plan of this work prevents us from doing competent jtistice to the subject of the 
foregoing essay ; but the curious reader will find it fully and learnedly discussed in Mallet's 
Northern Antiquities: The very erudite author has ably described the manners, customs, 
religion, and laws of the ancient Danes, and other northern nations including those of our 
Saxon ancestors ; with a Translation of the Rdda, and other pieces from the ancient Ice- 
landish tongue. This work has been translated from the French by Dr Percy, Bishop of 
Dromore, with additional notes by the translator. To it is appended Goranson's Latin 
version of the Edda. 

The subjoined Ode, usually called The Quid a, has been selected not only as a fair specimen of the Runic 1B11S^ 
but as an historical epitome of the achievements of Regnar, from the Northern Hellespont to the British islet. 
In this effusion, war, the worst of evils, is considered a pastime, the. battle field, the most awful of sights, ass 
scene of delight. Eveiy incident attending the slaughter, all the imagery of death, is recalled with ezultatioa. 
The bloody fray is hailed by the human hell-honnd as the sweetest hour of his life, even as the day of hla nuptiili : 
" Was it not like that hour when I placed my smiling bride beside me on the marriage couch f** The clashhig of 
arms, the shouts of the encountering hosts, ^the shrieks and yells of the wounded, are as music to Uie esrof the 
iron-clad and iron-hearted warrior. But the day we trust is now passing or past, when war shall be the oceupatioa 
of mankind, and the age is now dawning, when the tongue and the pen, not the sabre and the muiket, ^mB 
employ the faculties of the nations : ' Cedant arma togse, concedat laurea linguae.' 

[See Turner's Avolo-Saxoks ; sixth sditxov, toI. i, p. 475. 

The Dying Ode of Reonxr Losbroo. 

We fought with swords : . . . When in Gothland I slew an enormous serpent, my re- 
ward was the beauteous Thora. Thence I was deemed a man : they called me LodlMrog 
from that slaughter. ... I thrust the monster through with a spear, with the steel pro- 
ductive of splendid rewards. 

We fought with swords: I was very young, when towards the east, in the 
straits of Eirar, we gained rivers of blood for the ravenous Wolf ; ample food for tbe 
yellow-footed fowl (eagle). There the hard iron sung upon the lofty helmets. Thft whole 
ocean was one wound. The raven waded in the blood of the slain. 

We fought with swords : we lifted high our lances; when I had numbered twenty yesn» 
and every where acquired renown. We conquered eight barons at the month of tbe 

* Five Pieces of Runic Poetry, published by Dodsley, in 1763. 


Danube. We procured ample entertainment for the eagle in that daughter. Bloody sweat 
fell in the ocean of wounds. A host of men there lost their lives. 

We fought with swords: we enjoyed the fight, when we sent the inhabitants of Uelsing 
to the Hall of Odin. We sailed up the Vistula. Then the sword acquired spoils : the whole 
ocean was one wound : the earth grew red with reeking gore : the sword grinned at the 
coats of mail : the sword cleft the shields asunder. 

We fought with swords : 1 well remember that no one fled that day into the battle, before 
in the ships Herauder fell. ITiere does not a fairer warrioi divide the ocean with his 
vessels. . . . lliis prince ever brought to the battle a g^lant heart. 

We fought with swords : the army cast away their shields. Then flew the spear to the 
breast of the warriors. The sword in the fight cut the very rocks ; the shield was all be- 
smeared with blood, before king Rafno fell, our foe. The warm sweat ran down from the 
heads on the coats of mail. 

We fought with swords, before the isles of Indir. We gave ample prey for the ravens 
to rend in pieces ; a banquet for the wild beasts that feed on flesh. At that time all were 
valiant ; it were difficult to single out any one. At the rising of the sun, I saw the lances 
pierce ; the bows darted the arrows from them. 

We fought with swords : loud was the din of arms, before King Eistin fell in the field. 
Thence, enriched with golden spoils, we marched to fight in the land of Vals. There the 
sword cut the painted shields. In the meeting of helmets, the blood ran from the cloven 
skuUs of men. 

We fought with swords, before Boring-holmi. We held bloody shields : we stained our 
spears. Showers of arrows brake the shield in pieces. The bow sent forth the glittering steel. 
Volnir fell in the conflict, than whom there was not a greater king. Wide on the shores 
lay the scattered dead : the wolves rejoiced over their prey. 

We fought with swords, in the Flemings' land : the battle widely raged before king Freyr 
fell therein. The blue steel all reeking with blood fell on the golden mail. Many a virgin 
bewailed the slaughter of that morning. The beasts of prey had ample spoil. 

We fought with swords, before Ainglanes. There saw I thousands lie dead in the ships : 
we sailed to the battle for six days before the army fell. There we celebrated a mass of 
weapons. At the rising of the sun Valdiofur fell before our swords. 

We fought with swords, at Bardafurda. A shower of blood rained from our weapons. 
Headlong fell the pallid corpse, a prey for the hawks. The bow gave a twanging sound. 
The blade sharply bit the coats of mail : it bit the helmet in the fight The arrow sharp 
with poison and all besprinkled with bloody sweat ran to the wound. 

We fought with swords, before the bay of Hiadning. We held aloft magic shields in the 
play of battle. Then might you see men, who rent shields with their swords. The helmets 
were shattered in the murmur of the warriors. The pleasure of that day was like having a 
fair virgin placed beside one in bed. 

We fought with swords, in the Northumbrian land. A furious storm descended on the 
shields : many a lifeless body fell to the earth. It was about the time of the morning when 
the foe was compelled to fly in the battle. There the sword sharply bit the polished 
helmet. The pleasure of that day was like kissing a young widow at the highest seat of 
the table. 

We fought with swords, in the isles of the south. There Herthiofe proved victorious : 
there died many of our valiant warriors. In the shower of arms Rogvaldur fell : I lost 
my son. In the play of arms came the deadly spear : his lofty crest was dyed with gore. 
The birds of prey bewailed his fall : they lost him that prepared them banquets. 

We fought with swords, in the Irish plains. The bodies of the warriors lay intermingled. 
The hawks rejoiced at the play of swords. The Irish king did not act the part of the 
Eagle . . . Great was the conflict of sword and shield. King Marstan was killed in the 
bay : he was given a prey to the hungry ravens. 

We fought with swords : the spear resounded, the banners shone on the coats of mail. I 
saw many a warrior fall in the morning : many a hero in the contention of arms. Here the 



Bword reached betimes the heart of my son : it was Egill deprived Agnar of life. He was 
a youth who knew not fear. 

We fought with swords, at Skioldunga. We kept our words : we carved out with our 
weapons a plenteous banquet for the wolves of the sea (the fishes). The ships were all 
besmeared with crimson, as if for many days the maidens had brought and poured forth 
wine. All rent was the mail in the clash of arms. 

We fought with swords, when Harold fell. I saw him struggling m the twilight of death ; 
that young chief so proud of his flowing locks : he who spent his mornings among the 
young maidens : he who loved to converse with the handsome widows. 

We fought wtth swords : we fought three kings in the isle of landis. Few had reason to 
rejoice that day. Many fell into the jaws of the wild beasts. The hawk and the wolf tore 
the flesh of the dead : they departed glutted with prey. The blood of the Irish fell plenti- 
fully into the ocean, during the time of slaughter. 

We fought with swords, at the isle of Onlug. The uplifted weapon bit the shields. The 
gilded lance grated on the mail. The traces of that fight will be seen for ages. There 
kings marched up to the play of arms. The shores of the sea were stained with blood. 
The lances appeared like flying dragons. 

We fought with swords. Death is the happy portion of the brave ; for he stands the 
foremost against the storm of weapons. He, who flies from danger, often bewails his mii- 
erable life. Yet how difficult is it to rouse up a coward to the play of arms I The dastard 
feels no heart in his bosom. 

We fought with swords. Young men should march up to the conflict of arms : roan 
should meet man, and never give way. In this hath always consisted the nobility of the 
warrior. He who aspires to the love of his mistress, ought to be dauntless in the clash of 

We fought with swords. Now I find for certain that we are drawn along by fate. Who 
can evade the decrees of destiny ? Could I have thought the conclusion of my life reserved 
for Ella, when almost expiring I shed torrents of blood ? When I launched forth with my 
ships into the deep? When in the Scottish gidfs I gained large spoils for the wolves? 

We fought with swords ; this fills me still with joy, because I know a banquet ia prepa^ 
ing by the father of the Gods. Soon in the splendid Hall of Odin, we shall drink beer out 
of the skulls of our enemies. A brave man sinks not at death. I shall utter no repining 
words, as I approach the palace of the Gods. 

We fought with swords : Oh that the sons of Aslauga f knew \ Oh that my children knew 
the sufferings of their father ^ that numerous serpents, filled with poison, tear me to pieceil 
Soon would they be here : soon would they wage bitter war with their swords. I gave s 
mother to my children, from whom they inherit a valiant heart. 

We fought with swords. Now I touch on my last moments. I receive a deadly hurt 
from the viper. A serpent inhabits the hall of my heart Soon shall my sons black their 
swords in the blood of Ella. They wax red with fury ; they bum with rage. Tlioae gil- 
lant youths will not rest till they have avenged their father. 

We fought with swords. Battles fifty and one have been fought under my bannan. 
From my early youth I learnt to dye my sword in crimson : I never yet could find a king 
more valiant than myself. The Gods now invite me to them. Death is not to be lamented. 

Tis with joy I cease. The goddesses of destiny are come to fetch me. Odin Kath scat 
them from the habitation of the Gods. I shall be joyfully received into the highest sest, 
I shall quaff full goblets among the Gods. The hours of my life are paased away. I 
die laughing. 

t Aflaugs wai the second wife of Regner. 






The following observations on the charters whether public or 
private which have come down to us from the Anglo-Saxon times 
are extracted from the Introduction to the Codex Diplomaticus 
iEvi Anglo-Saxonici, and render any further preUminary informa- 
tion unnecessary. 

To these [i. e. tAe charters] we must look, for almost all oar information res- 
pecting the law of real property ; the descent and liabilities of lands ; the nature 
of tenure and service; the autnority of the king, the nobility and the church; 
even the power of the popular councils. From the Anglo-Saxon Wills alone we 
derive a reasonable account of the household arrangements^ and disposition of 
real and personal estate. From the records of the synods or councils and of the 
county courts, we gain our only insight into the nature and forms of process. 
CoDEZ, vol. i,p. I. 

That Augustine and his companions, when they introduced Christianity among 
the Saxons, introduced with it, writing, annals, an era, and the necessary 
forms of civilization, it is not unreasonable to believe. Some of the documents 
themselves [charters], which profess to belong to this very early period, bear the 
marks of a Roman and ecclesiastical origin. They differ in some material points 
from the forms afterwards current in Europe : while at t^e same time, in some 
very remarkable respects, they bear a resemblance to the most ancient papyri. 
That at the end of the seventh and commencement of the eighth centuries, lands 
were conveyed by charter in England, we learn from Beda's letter to Ecgberht : 
his words are, *' Ipsas quoque literas privilegiorum suorum, quasi veraciter Deo 
dignas, pontificum, abbatum, et potestatum sseculi obtinebant subscriptione con- 
finnari [TAey got the toritings which declared their rights, as being truly toorthy 


of God, to he confirmed by the subscription of pontiffs, ahbat-s, and the temporal 
powers!]" And these words, which evidently show that this was no new arrange- 
ment^ appear to me to be applicable to the whole period between Angastine and 
Beda. For the extreme importance attached to the destruction of all remnants 
of heathendom, to which the symbolic transfers more especially belonged, render- 
ed it from the very first necessary to substitute for them such forms as the Church 
had sanctioned ; since in all times, the possession and transfer of land become one 
of the deepest foundations of the whole social polity. I therefore see no reason 
to doubt that land was transferred by documentary forms, either with or without 
symbolic forms, from the very first introduction of Christianity among the 
Anglo-Saxons. Ibid, p, vi. 

It would be unreasonable to expect us to decide with certainty upon a point 
involved so deeply in obscurity, as the relations of the manifold Saxon tribes 

during the continuance of the several kingdoms History knows little of the 

various reguli who within their petty territories exercised the regal power ; and 
nearly as little of the extent and nature of the authority claimed or vindicated by 
the sons and brothers of ruling sovereigns. Oswine, rex Cantuarionim, if ever 
there were such a person, is known to us from these charters alone; and so little 
known to us from them, that the compiler of the chartulary in which they are 
found, confounds him with St Oswine of Northumberland, and notes discrepan- 
cies in the dates upon that supposition. Suaebhard, rex Cantuariorum, is men- 
tioned as an intruder by various chroniclers ; he himself in his charters asserts his 
paternal right to the throne. Sigired calls himself rex dimidise partis Cantias, at 
a time respecting whose events the annalists are silent. During the same period 
we find Eardwulf, and Heardberht, reges Cantuariorum : if mentioned in the 
chronicles at all, these persons must be taken to be intended by the reges exieri 
who rather plundered than ruled Kent. Aethclberht the second son of Wihtred, 
not only calls himself king of Kent, but grants lands by that title, during the later 
time of his father, and Efiidberht his elder brother. In one original cliarter he 
dates his reign from Wihtred's death in 725; twenty years before, according to 
the Chroniclers, he came to the throne. It is perhaps not impossible that in the 
very early periods of Anglo-saxon liistory, the name of king (cyning from cnm, 
generosus a genere) may have been assumed by the sons of sovereigns, whethcf 
or not accompanied with an appanage, rights and jurisdiction : just as at present 
in Germany all the children of a noble parent bear the title of the father. 
In rather later times, however, I should be inclined to confine it to such princes 
as were crowned in the lifetime of their father, and associated with him in the 

Various kings appear to have used various titles in proportion as they exten- 
ded their power and influence. Aethilbald styles himself sometimes king of the 
Mercians, sometimes of the Angles, sometimes of the Southangles : and this he 
might justly do, since the Mercians, whose king he was, were the most important 
of the English Angle tribes ; and the Southangles, if ever separated in their 
government, were an appanage of the reigning Mercian family : Peada, Penda's 
son, was during his father's lifetime king of the Middle and Southangles. Others 
add indefinitely Cieterarumque gentium in circuitu persistentium, even though the 
first title were one (as rex Angalsaxonum) which comprised all the populations 
really subject to their rule : but this, which is undoubtedly of later growth, smacks 
of the bombast of Byzantium. The kings of Mercia after Coenuulfs second year, 
(viz. 798) take also the style of kings of Kent, which was an appanage to Mercia 
in the hands of Cdthred, Coenuulf's brother, till 805, became again an indepen- 


dent kingdom under Baldred, and finally sank into an appanage for the sons and 
brothers of the Westsaxon kings. These latter called themselves originally 
kings of the Gewissas, their family tribe ; somewhat later, kings of the West- 
saxons ; later still kings of the Westsaxons and men of Kent. After the union 
of nearly all England in the person of Aethelst&n, this style was in general aban- 
doned for that of Rex totius Albionis, Rex et primicerius totius Brittanniae ; or 
words of similar import. 

As we have scarcely any Northumberland charters, a fact as strange as it is 
much to be lamented, we can give no account whatever of the style adopted by 
the kings of that country ; it is probable however that they carefully maintained 
the distinction between Deira and Bernicia, which has been unaccountably over- 
looked by many historians of Saxon England. The kings of Essex called them- 
selves Reges Eastsexorum or Eastsaxonum as long as their kingdom last- 
ed. Those of Eastanglia, probably Reges Eastanglorum, Orientalium anglorum, 
or merely Angloruro. The relations however of these kings is throughout obscure ; 
and history has little recorded of them, from the murder of Aethilberht, till the 
defeat and death of E&dmund ; after whose fall Eastanglia never recovered its in- 
dependence, being held as a kind of province by the Danish invaders, or finally 
incorporated in the dominions of Wessex. Ibid. /?. xxii. 

A very few words may be said of the boundaries. I have not stated this as a 
distinct and substantive part of a Saxon charter, because it seems incidental to 
the grant, a definition in short of the place named. But very rarely is a Saxon 
charter without a description of them ; in the earlier documents this is usually 
incorporated with, in the later appended to, the grant. It would seem as if for 
the most part it were added after the instrument was formally completed, as in 
almost every case they are described in Anglo-Saxon, althoagh the charter itself 
is drawn up in Latin. When the solemn cession had been made, it was probably 
left to the local officers, in conjunction with the grantee, to see that its limits 
were accurately defined. Ibid.j». Ixii. 

That our pagan forefathers, previously to the arrival of the Roman missionaries, 
had some kind of date, some definite era from which they reckoned, is sufficiently 
obvious : but it is far from clear what description of date or era it was. Its inac- 
curacy and uncertainty are rendered evident to us by that which proves that some- 
thing of the kind existed, viz. the scattered records of kings who reigned before 
the introduction of Christianity, and some leading events of their respective peri- 
ods ; but we are not allowed lo judge in what these early fasti consisted, from 
what point they started, or what periods of time they embraced. But, whether 
they were merely the alliterative poems, which even in the time of Tacitus formed 
the sole history of the Teutonic tribes ; or the more advanced records of a sacer- 
dotal class, carved with Runic letters on blocks of wood and stone; or the 
annals of individual kings, dating from the great festivals of the heathen 
year; they could present but little worthy of attention to the Christian and 
Iloman monks whose habits had been formed in other climes and under 
other creeds. In all that these, the earliest historians of England, have left 
Tis, we have evidence of what unsatisfactory materials they had to deal with. 
A majority of the kings recorded in their pages are mythic heroes common 
both to England and Germany ; while the constant recurrence of particular num- 
bers in the' dates of their reigns are equally convincing proofs of mythic tradition. 
History has nothing to do with them ; they fall into the circle of mythology. 
Even of those who approach somewhat nearer to historical periods, little morQ 


than the names has survived; and it is often donbtfdl whether even those are or 
are not names of men : it may be fairly questioned whether we know the name and 
rank of -fithelberht's grandfather. 

Although it is far from probable that Augustine was the first to plant Christi- 
anity among the Anglo-saxons^ yet the results of any previous labours must have 
been very unimportant ; nor is it to be imagined that letters fit for the composi- 
tion of continuous annals, or a regular system of dates, were among the number. 
When therefore the missionaries of Gregory had so far prevailed as to obtain per- 
mission to build a church and preach the gospel abroad, it seems that one of their 
first cares would be to habituate the people to the Roman character, the Boman 
calendar, and the Boman era ; perhaps also to the decimal system of notatioo. 
They cannot have expected to be continually recruited from Borne; and the early 
appearance of Anglosaxons, even of high rank, among the bishops and archbish- 
ops of the Anglican church, shows that if the teachers brought zeal to their task, 
they were not repulsed by backwardness on the part of those whom they taught 
The great advance in civilization made, especially in Northumberland, before the 
dose of the seventh century, proves that even the rough denizens of that inhos- 
pitable portion of our land were apt and earnest scholars. There was therefore 
every reason to introduce among the Anglosaxons such branches of learning as 
were looked upon as essential ; and among these the art of writing in Ronian let- 
ters (vulgarly called Anglosaxon), and the Boman method of datiufi^ might justly 
be considered the first. 

To this would be added another consideration of no mean importance. What- 
ever fasti existed, could only record the deeds of Pagans : the songs were not an- 
frequently carmina diabolica, for in the language of those times, the gods of our 
forefathers were demons. Moreover, the Bunes or letters of the Anglosaxons had 
been used for little else than divinations and auguries, which from the first were 
an especial object of horror with the missionaries : ill adapted as they were to con- 
tinuous writing, there is httle probability of their having ever been pat to that 
use ; and it was less difficult for Augustine and his companions to introduce the 
characters with the language of Bome, than to learn the rude forms of the Saxon 
letters, which were as little known to the mass of the people as the new ones which 
replaced them. 

It seems therefore certain that the History of England commences with 
Augustine ; that is to say, the orderly and digested series of events, arranged ac- 
cording to certain definite and systematic dates, and committed to writing aocoid- 
ingly. Not that I imagine the earliest missionaries to have busied themselves in 
collecting the fragmentary traditions of those who to them can only have been 
benighted and barbarous Pagans : on the contrary, they were far more likdy to 
destroy any that they could lay their hands on. But that the first who compoeed 
annals of their own times, which served as a basis for future chroniclers, were die 
Bomans. In latter times tradition meagrely filled up the void they had left; and 
a few echos only have come down to us from the centuries which may haved^^ 
sed between the first settlement of the Saxons on our shores, and the sucoessfnl 
and most glorious work of Gregory ; dull and fragmentary voices telling of gens- 
rations winch have past away from us for ever 1 

But if we owe an era to Augustine, what is that likely to have been P Surdj 
no other than that which had been in use in the place from which he came* I see 
no reason to doubt that this was the era of the Incarnation of our Lard ; perhaps also 
the cycle of the Indictions. What other could in fact be used? Certainly not 
the years of Roman emperors or popes, unknown to the new conv^ts even br 
name : hardly the regnal years of petty sovereigns, numerous, far ^art^ some still 


addicted to Pagan superstitions, many still unknown even by name to the mission- 
aries, all still uncertain in what year their reigns began. But if other reasons 
had been wanting, there was one which seems likely to have been decisive. The 
great Christian festival of the nativity fell, by a wonderful chance, upon that mys- 
tical night which the mothers celebrated among all the nations of the north, with 
solemn religious observances and ceremonies. In the spirit which then, and since, 
animated the missionaries of the faith, this day, holy among the heathen, was 
especially adopted by their teachers, and became for the new converts the com- 
mencement of the year. From the night of Christ's birth the years were hence- 
forth reckoned, and what so natural, so apparently unavoidable, as the affix- 
ing of Christ's date to the year so commenced? Another and strong ground 
may be assigned for the beUef here expressed. The Aomans found Christi- 
anity in England ; but that in which the orthodoxy of those days mainly 
consisted they did not find ; I mean the Roman time of celebrating Easter. Now 
the disputes on this subject between the Western and Eastern churches had al- 
ready led to the composition of elaborate tables, accurately defining the recurring 
dates upon the calculation of which the paschal period depended. Amongst 
these the most celebrated are those of Dionysius, who about the year 526 
put forth his complete series of circles, introducing for the first time the 
years of the incarnation. It will be difficult to believe that these tables, so 
important for the solution of the great controversy, were not brought to 
Britain by Augustine; and still more difficult to believe that he did not 
eagerly seize the opportunity to substitute the venerable era they contained for 
any other that he might find here established. 

Those who argue that the era of the incarnation was not introduced into Eng- 
land till the time of Beda, appear to me to have no sound grounds for their 
belief. Ibid. j?. Ixviii. 

I believe it is now admitted that in the course of the eighth century the ponti- 
fical had superseded the imperial indictions in England : and Pagi, the learned 
commentator on Baronius, asserts this distinctly. lam satisfied that this view is 
the correct one, with perhaps the exception of the word superseded ; for I know 
of no evidence that we ever had the imperial indictions. p. Ixxix. 

Anachronism in dates is undoubtedly the surest test by which we detect for- 
gery in a charter ; but .... anachronism is not to be charged too lightly : the 
error may lie after all with ourselves. Especially allowance is to be made in apo- 
graphs found in chartularies : here setting aside the case ahready alluded to where 
the year of our Lord had been miscalculated from the indiction, a want of coin- 
cidence between the year and the indiction is not of uncommon occurrence. This 
however generally arises from the latter date having been partially abraded by age, 
and 80 misread : the want of a light line at the bottom r^ily transforms 
a V (in the old charters U) into a II ; an abrasion may convert an X into a V : 
hence we not uncommonly find in these copies indiction IIIl for VII or XV ; 
VII for XIT ; XII for X V, and the like. Nor is another error at all uncommon, 
where a letter or contraction has been taken to be part of the date : for instance, 
indictione u (uero) Ila, has often been read as if it were indictione Vila. Again, 
indictione Xma, has become transformed into indictione Xllla, the strokes of the 
written m having been taken to represent three units. This cause of error is so 
frequent as to render multiplied examples unnecessary. But even the careless- 
ness of a scribe may have given rise to blunders of omission . . . ^. Ixxxviii. 


The researches of diplomatists have established the fact that many of the most 
powerful princes of the Teutonic tribes could not write at all, but stamped their 
names upon their grants, p. xc. 

The witnesses to Saxon charters vary with the circumstances of the time and 
country. They probably were very generally merely the court or comites of the 
king, and with the importance of the king, the importance of the witnesses would 
vary. The earliest instruments of this nature, granted by the petty sovereigns, or 
half sovereigns of petty states, are distinguished by the small number of signa- 
tures, the presence of one bishop, or at most two, and the simple manner of the 
subscription. The same remarks apply also to grants made as it were in the pri- 
vate court, at the private dwelling of the king. But far different is it in later 
times with the records of synodal decrees, or with grants made at the annual 
councils, or the great festivals of Christmas and Easter, when the king celebrated 
these. Then we have an array of lay lords and church lords, sometimes compre- 
hending a majority of the nobles and bishops of the whole land ; and then we 
have a multitude of ministri and milites, and even some names without addition, 
which we may believe to be those of persons who were not members of the king^s 
court. Far different in still later times, when there was but one king and one 
court, and when courtiers of all classes crowded to testify their approbation 
of grants^ which might act hereafter as happy precedents in their own case. 
p, xcii. 

The sign of the cross is found in the eariiest Italian documents, and is univer- 
sal among the Anglo-Saxons, from whom we ourselves have derived it ... It 
may be doubted whether an older and heathen feeling did not lurk at first under 
this symbol ; whether, in short, such marks may not have been held binding 
among the Saxons even before the introduction of Christianity. For the hammer 
of Thunor (Thorr) was the true heathen symbol in all contracts, and it is veil 
known that the hammer of Thunor was represented by a cross, p, xciii. 

The second class of documents contained in this collection [i. e. qfciarUn], 
comprise the records of trials determined either in the county court before 
the sheriff, or in the great synods or councils, held twice a year. These meet- 
ings, which present the nearest approach to our parliaments that is to be met with 
in the Anglo-Saxon institutions, correspond in some degree to the old heathen 
assembhes, and the later March and May-fields of the Franks • . . That these 
councils were legislative bodies we may see by the collections of laws passed is 
them not only for the church, but the laity ; and a passage already cited (f. 
Ixxiii) proves that they were also courts of justice, p. cvi. 

Perhaps, however, the most valuable and interesting of all the documents con- 
tained in this collection are the Wills, p. cviii. 

\_Tie reader is referred to King Alfred! 9 Willy to be given hereafter mi <to 
volume y for some general remarks on the subject^ 




1. The first appearance of Alfred's name affixed to a charter 
is under the year 853, when he was only four years old. His 
father Ethelwolf, then king, ^^for the expiation of his crimes 
and the absolution of his sins," grants some land to " his faithful 
minister Ealdhere &c. &c." Among the witnesses to this grant 
are ; '^ + I Ethelbearht king have confirmed and subscribed this 
grant with the sign of the holy cross.** " + I Elfred son of the 
king have consented and subscribed." It is evident that either 
this charter is a forgery, or that some person acted for the child 
Alfred in affixing his consent and signature. 

But this is not the only difficulty ; for Ethelbert second son of 
Ethelwolf, was never, as far as we know, king during his father's 

2. In the charter, whether genuine or spurious, containing 
Ethelwolf s grant of tithes to the church, [see Harmony of the 
Chronicles, page 16,] and dated April 22, 854, we again find 
'^ + iElfred son of the king," but not in the second charter bear- 
ing the same date. 

3. Under the same year is a grant to Malmesbury abbey church, 
to which the name of Alfred is also affixed. '^ + Aelfred son of 
the king." The charter is probably a forgery. 

4. In 855, to a grants by king Ethelwolf, of some land near 
Rochester castle. ^^ + 1 Aelfred son of the king have consented 
and subscribed*" 

5. A charter, by Ethelbert, " king of the West-Saxons," and 
therefore granted between 860 and 862, bears the signature 
'* + 1 Elfraed son of the king," i. e. of king Ethelwolf. 

6. In 862, to another charter of Ethelbert, ^' + I Aelfred bro- 
ther of the king have consented and subscribed." 


7. To another, of the same king, in the same year, '^ + I Aelfred 
son of the king." 

8. In 868, Aug. 1, a charter of Burgred king of Mercia, to Theo- 
dore abbat of Croyland, bears the attestation — ^' I Alfred bro- 
ther of the king of West-Saxony have consented/* 

9. In 868, to a charter by Ethelswith Alfred's sister, and queen 
of Mercia, ^' + I iElfred brother of the king have consented and 

In 871, Ethelred died, and Alfred was elected king with the 
unanimous consent of all the estates of the realm, notwithstanding 
that some of his brother's children were then alive ; but these 
appear to have been thought too young to protect the kingdom 
from its enemies ; and, as the crown was at that time elective, and 
not hereditary— or if hereditary, only so in a qualified degree, 
— the eldest nephew of Alfred, Ethelward, was easily set aside in 
favour of his illustrious uncle, though, on Alfred's death in 901, 
he set up a fruitless claim to the succession in opposition to his 
cousin Edward the Elder. 


We have not a single charter belonging to the first seven years 
of king Alfred's life, and it may be remarked as a curious fact, that 
there was (so it seems) a *^ duke Alfred " contemporary with the 
Great King. His name appears as "Elfred dux," or *'iEl£red 
dux," subscribed to charters granted between the years 871 
and 889. 

In 878 begin the charters which properly are to be ascribed to 
king Alfred himself, and it seems the more imperative to give 
them in a collected edition of his works, from the great proba^ 
bility that, unlike his more illiterate predecessors, who may be 
supposed to have had little to do with such documents, — king 
Alfred, being a scholar fond of using his pen, and of taking part 
in every thing which concerned the good of his people, may him- 
self have assisted in penning the charters which bear his nama 
Twelve only of these instruments bear Alfred's name, and it is 


with good grounds believed that seven of these are spurious, — 
forged in after times by the monks to secure their lawful lands 
under the apparent authority of the great king, or perhaps to sub- 
stantiate their claim to lands which in justice did not belong to 
them. The grounds, upon which each charter is"* supposed to be 
a forgery, will be given in a note. 

1. A. D. 878. [See Codex, ii, 105.] 

' Our Lord Jesus Christ reigns for ever ! Whereas all the 
kingdoms of this transitory life and the dispensers of those king- 
doms, from the beginning of this world, fade and pass away ; 
therefore everlasting joys must be obtained for the fleeting and 
mortal state of men. Wherefore I, iElfred, by the ordinance of 
Divine Providence king of the West-Saxons, for the remedy of 
my soul and the forgiveness of my sins, with willing mind have 
given a certain portion of land, i. e. ten cassates, in a place called 
Suth-tun at Prince's Island, which is named Aethelingaey by its 
usual English name, to supply monastic subsistence for the monks, 
who therein under regular exercises devoutly serve Almighty God : 
and this liberty I have given with devout mind to the aforesaid 
monastery, with the meadows, pastures, brooks and all things 
rightly belonging thereto ; that it may remain secure, free and 
unburdened for ever from the claim of all king's taxes, and of 
works and of penal causes, saving • only expeditions against an 
enemy, and the building of fortresses and bridges : and if any one 
shall hereafter wish to augment this [gift], may God augment his 
goods in the land of the living ! But, if any one, which God for- 
bid ! swollen with the breath of pride, and led on by tyrannic 
power, shall endeavour to infringe and nullify this gift, let him 
know that he is anathematized by all the Christian church ; and 
unless he beforehand mend his ways, shall give account on the 
day of judgment before Christ and his angels. But the land 
aforesaid and the donation of this land extends and is bounded by 
these boundaries, &c. 

The schedule of this grant was written in the year 878 from the 

(1) ThiB charter, nvhich is in Latin, is marked in the Codex, [vol. ii, p. 105] as a forgery, 
or, at least, as of doubtful genuineness. 

(2) This is what our lawyers call the * trinoda necessitas,* from which no estate was 


incarnation of our Lord, 4th indiction, with the consent of these 
witnesses whose names are here to be seen. 

+ I king Alfred, have confirmed this my gift with the sign of 
the Holy cross, + I, Ealferth bishop &c, 

2, A.D. 871—878. [Codex, ii, 106.] 

3. This is the bequest that Al\Ted king grants into Sceaftes- 
bury, to love God and Saint Mary and all God's saints, for the 
warning [safety] of my soul, with hale tongue ; that is an hundred 
hides with meat and men all as it stands ; and my daughter Age- 
lyve further with the property into the minster, for that she was 
hooded [consecrated] in sickness ; and my soken to the minster 
that I myself owned, that is forsteal, and hamsoken, and mund- 
breche; and these are the lands* names, that I have granted 
thither ; that is at Dunheved and at Cumtune 40 hides, and at Han- 
lee and Gissic 20 hides, and at Terente 10 hides, and at Ywern 15 
hides, and Funtemel 15 hides, 

And this is to witness Edward my son, and Athered archbishop, 
and Alcheferd bishop and Adelheach bishop and Wlfhere alder- 
man, and Adwlf alderman, and Cuthred alderman, and Tumbert 
abbat, and Midred my thane, and Athelwulf, and Osric, and 
Berthful and Cyma. And look whoso turns this gift aside, may 
he have God's curse and saint Mary's, and all God's saints, for 
ever : Amen. 

To the foregoing charter, which is in Anglo-Saxon, is appended 
a Latin copy of the same, of which the following is a literal 

+ I Alvred king, in honour of God and of the blessed viigiii 
Mary and of all the saints, give and grant, being alive and still 
thriving, to the church of Scepton a hundred hides of land, with 
the men and all appurtenances, as they now are, and Ayleva my 
daughter with the same, who compelled by ill health has become 
a nun in the same church : saving these rights which belong to 
my crown, namely forsteal and hamsocken and munbreck. 

And these are the names of the lands which I have given and 
granted to the church aforesaid; Dunehefda and Kuntune 40 
hides ; in Henlee and Gersicg 20 hides ; in Tarente 10 hides ; in 
Hyuuerna 15 hides; in Funtemel 15 hides. 


The witnesses of this matter are, Edward my son, Athelred 
archbishop, Alfred bishop, and Adelheac bishop, and Uulfere, 
Raduulf, Kudred alderman, Turebert abbat, Mildred and Atheluulf, 
and Osric, and Berthuulf, and my court 

Whosoever shall turn these aside, may he be by God and the 
holy virgin Mary and all the saints accursed for ever. Amen. 

3. A. D. 880. [Codex, ii, 107.] 

In 880, iEthelred, duke of Mercia, gives a charter, with the 
consent and subscription of king Alfred, " + I Aelfred king have 
consented and subscribed.'* 

4. A. D. 883. [Codex, u, 110.] 

A charter of Aethelred, duke of Mercia, bears the attestation 
of king Alfred, ** + I iElfred confirm the munificence of this 
grant with the sign of the Holy Cross." 

The next charter, in Cod.ii, \\2, is otherwise called Alfred! s JVilL 

5. A. D. 889. [Codex, ii, 118.] 

•Inasmuch as it often happens to some men, and especially 
during the foul and discordant madness of this present life, that 
the tide of oblivious iniquity strikes and blunts the simple eye of 
the thoughtful heart, and the clouds of neglect with dark overlays 
of depravity obscure from the path of right the radiating star of 
justice ; Wherefore it is necessary for every man, that all his ac- 
quisitions or possessions, by the aid of writings, for the caution of 
those now living or hereafter to succeed, such possessions as by 
catholic or heroic men of either greater or lesser power, have* 
been delivered over to God and his saints through the height of 
the heavens, should be firmly and duly ratified by their testimony 
and confirmation, and noted down by the true pen of the writer 
on parchment. Wherefore, in the year 889, since the benignant 
gem of heavenly light shone through the field of virgin modesty 
desirable to mankind with the appearance of mystic breathing, in 
the 7th Indiction, with the beams of the aforesaid brilliancy and 

(3) The following charter betrays itself to be a forgery by its bombastic style, — more com- 
mon in the age of Dunstan and afterwards of the Anglo-Norman monks than in that of 
king Alfred. 


grace shining upon us, I iElfred king of the Angles and Saxons, 
and iEthelred under-kuig and patrician of the Mercians, with the 
testimony and license or consent of the senators, bishops or dukes 
of either race, for the relief of my [iwwjdeeds, and to gain the 
rest of heavenly remuneration, do hereby confer in ecclesiastical 
right, and give and grant, to Waerfrith, the illustrious bishop of 
the Wiccii, for the church of Worcester, in London, one court, 
which, as to its name, is called by the citizens "ad antiquum 
petrosum aedificium," that is " JEt Hwaetmund's stone," * from the 
public street to the wall of the same city, whose length is 26 
perches, and breadth in its upper part is 13 perches and 7 feet, 
and in its lower part 1 1 perches and 6 feet, to be possessed for 
ever hi full liberty of the whole matter here-under ; and that it 
may have pot and scale for measuring in buying and selling for 
their use or necessities, free in all respects, and may remain free 
from all duties or fiscal penalty, or public duty, save what shall 
relate from within to the lordship of the bishop of the church of 
Worcester. But if any of his men shall traffic without or in the 
public street or on the bank • where men buy, according as is right 
let toll be paid into the king's hand ; but if any one shall buy or 
sell within in the aforesaid court, let due toll be paid into the 
hand of the bishop above named; and always, as long as the 
peoples of the English or Saxons, by faith of the Christian 
religion, shall be sprinkled with the water of holy baptism, or the 
city of London shall be fitly subject to the dominion of their 
authority, let it remain subject to the city of Worcester. 

We call to witness and beseech the persons of all men, pre- 
sent or to come, that this our gift may remain inviolate and entire, 
.as the present page testifies. But if any one, as we hope not, in- 
flated with the serpentine poison of devilish suggestion, shall 
attempt to corrupt in any way the course of this definition, let 
them know that they shall be pierced through with Anna and 
Zaphira by the heUish sword of eternal anathema, unless they 
shall resolve beforehand with due satisfaction to amend thdr 
ways. But these are the names of those who have been witnesses 

(4) This, possibly, may be the London-stone, still to be seen in Watling Street. 

(5) bank * ripa*, bank of the river ; where in former times much traffic was carried om 
under the Anglo-Norman kings, not, as far as we know, in the Anglo-Saxon times. TOi 
is a strong proof of the charter being a forgery. 


and consentient to this our gift, and, confirming it with the trium- 
phant banner of the holy cross, have subscribed it with their own 

+ I yElfred king of the Angles and Saxons, confirming this 
gift, subscribe it with the sign of the cross. + I iEthelred under- 
king and patrician of the Mercians have subscribed this gift 
with the sign of the cross. + I iEthelflaed have consented. 
+ I Uulfred bishop have consented. + I Alhard bishop have 
consented. + I Uuaerfrith bishop have consented. + I De- 
neuulf bishop have consented. + I Wulfsige bishop have con- 

6. (no date) Codex it, 122, andiii, 401. 

• Our Lord and Saviour Jems Christ reigns for ever, the king of 
all ages I Whereas the orbit of this transitory life daily sets and 
fades ; and all the faithful are earnestly admonished by this sign, 
that, closely following the examples of good works, in the pro- 
fitable successes of their forefathers* good will, they may in 
exchange for their worldly goods deserve to obtain the never- 
ending and unchangeable joys of the kingdom of heaven. Where- 
fore I Aelfred, by favour of Almighty God's mercy king of the 
English, and ruler of the other provinces l)ang round about, and 
governor of the nations, with willing mind grant and confirm a 
portion of land wherein is a monastery, dedicated, founded, and 
lauilt, as it appears, under the name of the Holy Trinity, in honor 
of St Peter prince of the apostles, namely a place, called by a well 
known name among the English, Ceroteseg, i. e. Cirot's island^ 
and five manses at Thorp, together with all appendages thereto^ 
rightly belonging, namely Getinges, Hunewaldesham, and Wude-^ 
ham, for the maintenance of that monastery and of all who with 
one mind therein serve God ; that those dwelling there may not 
cease to intercede for my sins and innumerable offences. But let 
the aforesaid land be as we have appointed, with all things that 
rightly belong to it, namely fields, woods, meadows, pastures, 
pools and brooks, free and undisturbed, and stable, firm and 
unannuUed, from every yoke of service. But if any one allured 

(6) The authenticity of this charter is doubtful : the first part of the charter is in Latin ; 
the boundaries arc in Anglo-Saxon. 


by diabolical covetousness shall make null the definition and 
ratification of this my decree, let him know that he shall render 
an account at the dreadful judgment, and burn for ever in the 
avenging flames of hell with Anti-Christ and his followers, and 
there shall remain eternally, unless he shall have duly enough 
repented in this present life. Now the land aforesaid is sur- 
rounded by these boundaries &c» 

This is the land-mark to Certeseye and to Thorpe. That is, 
first on to Waiemuthe ; up along the Waie to Waibrugge to the 
mid-stream ; from Waibrugge southward to Boggesley ; from 
Boggeslye by the mid-stream to Wudeham ; from Wudeham 
right-south into Halewik ; by the mid-stream ; and so forth be- 
tween the land of Halewik and the land of Wintrede*s-hill right- 
west ; and so forth right-west into the foul brook that goeth between 
Fecingelye and the gallows ; and so right-forth to the hoar 
stone ; and from the hoar stone into the dark ford ; and so 
forth right-west along the stream into the moor at east-wood's 
end : and so up between east-wood and Otershaghe on the hoar 
thorn ; from the hoar thorn to the oak trees ; from the oak trees 
to the three-hills ; from the three-hills unto the drain ; 
from the drain unto the march-brook; from the march-brook 
on to Exlaef s bourn ; from Exlaef s bourn to the hoar maple-tree ; 
from the hoar maple-tree to the three-trees ; from the three-trees 
along the deep brook right to weal-gate ; from weal-gate on to clear 
pool right to the foul brook ; from the foul brook to the black 
withy ; from the withy right-forth to weales-hythe, along the 
Temese [Thames] on the other half [side] of Mixtenham ; on to the 
oak between Burgh-island and Mixtenham : along the water right 
to Nettle-isle; from the isle along the Thames about [round] 
ox-lake ; and so forth along Thames to bores-hill ; and so 
forth along Thames right to Ham-isle ; and so forth along stream 
right by north of Ham-isle ; and so forth along Thames by half 

^ stream ; back on Wayemuthe. 


7. A. D. 891, Aug. 2. Codex ii, 123. 
' + I Alfred by the grace of God king of the Anglo-Saxons, at the 
intercession of my, faithful earl named Berhtulf, have given and 
granted for ever a small piece of land in exchange for another 

(7) This and the next three charters are supposed tu be spurious. 


land, free from all secularities, except marching against the 
enemy, and building a bridge or a fortress. But the said land 
is, in quantity, of seventeen manses, lying in two places, at a place 
called Plyssh of twelve manses, and at a place called Radingtun 
of five manses. I have therefore received from the aforesaid 
earl, for those lands, land of the same quantity which the 
country-people call Suth-tun, near the sea-shore in the district 
called Domsetan, and the same land is equally free, as aforesmd. 
But it is surrounded by these boundaries &c. 

The writing of this charter was done in the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 891, Indiction 7, the 4th day before the nones of 
August With the consent of these witnesses, whose names are 
noted beneath. + I Alvred king have subscribed. + I Berh- 
tulf duke have consented, with many others. 

8. A. D. 892. Codex, it, 124, and in, 402. 

+ In the name of the Lord I I iElfred by the clemency of 
Him who sits on high, Creator and Governor of all things, king of 
the Angol^Saxons, will give and grant for a perpetual inheritance 
to my faithful earl iEthelhelm, a small piece of land, that is of ten 
manses in a place called Northniwetune. But the aforesaid piece 
of land is free from all secularities except marching against an 
enemy and building bridges or fortresses. These are the territories 
of the land above mentioned, &c. 

First by Afene-stead to Stintesf ord ; then to Rush's-lade ; then 
to Cioltanford ; then to Wifelesford ; then so along the way to 
Sand-hill ; then to Botanwell ; then by the Wiodde ; then over the 
Wiod to the Gore and so back to the Afene. 

Rubric. This is the book of the ten hides at Northniwetune 
that iElfred booked [enregistered] to ^Ethelhelm his thane in 
everlasting inheritance. 

The writing of this charter was done in the year of our Lord's 
incarnation 892, Indiction 10, with the consent of these witnesses 
whose names are noted beneath. 

+ Aelfred king of the Saxons. + Wulfsige bishop. + Wul> 
red duke. + iEthelred duke. + Eadweard th^ king's son. 



+ John the presbyter. + Waemlf thepresbjrter.+ Deormodthe 
cellarer. + Aelf ric the treasurer. + Sigewulf the butler. + Bym- 
stan the soldier. + Berchtmund the soldier. + Wulfsige the sol- 
dier. + Aethelm the soldier. + Aethelhelm the soldier. + O- 
wald the soldier. + Uchferth the soldier. + Ocea the soldier. 
+ Byrhthelm the soldier. 

To those who observe and consent to this our grant, may peace 
remain for ever, but to those who oppose or endeavour to infringe 
it, be woe ! and a portion with the traitor Scariot ! 

9. Codex fV, 121. 

In the name of the Lord ! I ^Elfred by the grace of God king of 
the Angol-Saxons, with the consent of the venerable household of 
the church of Maldubia [Malmesbury], give and grant to my 
faithful minister named Dudig a certain piece of ground, that is 4 
cassates at the same land aforesaid, to have and to hold for his 
own days, and to leave after him to three heirs whomsoever he 
may choose. But after the days of the three heirs, the aforesaid 
land is to return to the church of the Holy Saviour in Malduberi 
[Malmesbury], without any gainsaying, to the same service as 
formerly. Now the aforesaid land is free from all secularities 
except marching against an enemy, and the building of bridges 
or fortresses. 

But the w riting of this charter was done, with the consent of 
the witnesses whose names are written beneath, in the place which 
is called Maelduburi, l)ut by our name Maeldunesburg. 

+ Ego Aelf red king. + Ulfric bishop. + Aethelhelm duke. 
+ Aethelnoth duke. + Aelfhere. + Deormod. + Beorhthelm. 
+ Ceolwulf. + Aetheluuald son of the king. + Beomhard. 
+ Uulfric. + Uuerulf. + Ecgwulf. 

10. A. D. 895. Codex, ii, 125. 

By the power of Almighty God, who reigns for ever, . . . 

by whose might and wisdom all men who come 

into this world are enlightened, kings and i)rinces are raised aloft, 
and the kingdoms of peoples are wonderfully dedicated. By this 
wonderful virtue, and not by my own power, and by the teach- 


ing of the benevolent father Leo, the high-priest oi an Christians, 
I have gained battles and conquered kingdoms — not I however, 
but God who is strong and powerful in battle : — Wherefore I ^El- 
vred king of the Saxons, wish to follow the footsteps of my 
father iEthelwulf; and, as he ordained that pay should be 
given for the lighting of St Peter, so I give and grant to his brother 
saint Andrew, the apostle of God the maker of the world who has 
condescended to augment my kingdom in these my times, all my 
land in the town of Frekeham, in the county of Suffolk, and I 
deliver my land in Yselham to you my faithful Burric bishop of 
Rochester and to your church to hold for ever, with all its per- 
tinences, marshes, pastures, feedings, meadows, waters, and fish- 
eries and fowleries, and with all my men, serfs and free, and other 
rights pertaining to the same. For there are 13 acres and 15 
manses which are included in these boundaries, &c. 

I will and command that this my gift of the lands aforesaid may 
be free from all royal power for ever, and that n